Former Business Partner Describes Soured Relationship With Doug Burgum

North Dakota governor-elect Doug Burgum cultivates a very clean image. He’s attracted a devoted following by promoting his personal brand as a benevolent tech hero.

Yesterday, we published a lengthy critique of Burgum written by a former business partner, Matt Charpentier, that was posted publicly on Facebook. In it, Charpentier accused Burgum of witholding money that was owed to his small business and said the Republican lacks the right temperament for public office.

Charpentier, who owns marketing company Chalk in Denver, reached out to us today to say he regretted the “rant” and that it wasn’t necessarily an accurate representation of his experience with Burgum.

Since Charpentier says he doesn’t stand by his Facebook post about Burgum, we removed it. Charpentier offered us this statement, which contains some of the interesting points he made in the original post.

“I’m writing this as a response to a previous post I made this week via Facebook. As I try to be less of a bitter, resentful person after this election week’s events and more someone working toward solutions and progress.

“It’s been a frustrating week for many. Tears have been shed, and emotions on high.

“I wrote a long, scathing rant on my dealings with Doug Burgum and I realize this is not a solution to any means, it’s not professional, nor is it within a form of character that I wish to project. And for that, I’m sorry. We need to move forward and toward a better world, and words like these don’t offer progress.

“I find myself often feeling extremely passionate about the state of North Dakota. My emotions get the best of me and I start childish tantrums, much like I accused Burgum of, in the heat of extreme decision-making moments our country is in the process of.

“In an effort to be somewhat more eloquent and professional in my manner of dealing with frustration, let me touch on a few things I’d mentioned in my post.

“Yes, it’s true we were asked to propose web solutions for Arthur Ventures, a venture capitalist business of known ties with Doug Burgum. In researching the project and trying to develop success metrics, the firm simply said they weren’t interested in our suggestions, such as gaining more leads or more investment. They confirmed they had everything they needed already via Burgum and his acquaintances. They were just after a fresh look for their website.

“Arthur Ventures was not interested in attracting investment opportunities outside of Burgum’s network, and that is completely within their right. My business, however, did not feel it was a message they portrayed in their marketing and they ensured us the message was something they still wanted to maintain. We decided without success metrics and without a message we felt was accurate, the project would not be for us.

“Both parties are completely within their right to their values and how they project them. This is business.

“In another unfiltered rant, I’d mentioned a business of Burgum’s interest going back on a contract they’d had with my small business. Yes, this happened. It was incredibly frustrating and a difficult challenge for us to make up the income they’d promised us, which happened to be nearly a month’s payroll for us.

“We persevered, though, and perhaps this is a time of finally forgiving and forgetting. The relationship wasn’t healthy, we didn’t feel teams were appropriately having each other’s backs in Doug Burgum’s presence. I didn’t feel we were taken very seriously. It was time to move on. Doug Burgum knew it. We knew it. I’d have preferred a more professional conversation about ending the relationship, but in the end my partners and I decided we’d rather focus our energy toward trying to fill a gap in our cash flow, than force a relationship we could no longer believe in. In the end, it worked out. I’m far removed from that relationship. I wish them the best. They have potential to be a great North Dakotan business.

“As a small business owner, my professional relationships with Doug Burgum left a lot to be desired, but it’s no excuse to rant and tear into a human being. This is a person; a person with a family. He has put a lot of energy into what he thinks will be best for North Dakota, and this leads to my ultimate realization. I am not North Dakota, by far.

“North Dakota has shown what they believe in. The voters turned out. The voters have spoken. I now know that I, in fact, do not know what’s best for North Dakota because I don’t share the same views as the voters. Perhaps Doug Burgum does.

“I have a lot of liberal friends that voted for Burgum and my reaction was spurred by a demand for more critical thinking incited from experiences that offer quite an opposing opinion from what seems to get reflected in North Dakotan media. I wanted to ensure we really knew what North Dakota was voting for, but this came with selfish belittling that’s unnecessary.

“It’s not right to lash out, and for this I apologize to Doug Burgum and his family. It’s not right to degrade a person because you feel differently, and it’s especially distasteful to bring his personal life and family into political matters.

“It doesn’t matter what I think. It matters what North Dakota thinks. I’ll give Mr. Burgum the benefit of the doubt. We need more positivity in politics on both sides.

“So, to Doug Burgum I say this. Good luck, Governor. I wish you the best. I’ve cared deeply about North Dakota for 30 years, and I’m hoping you’ll do them well.”

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