I am referring, of course, to the Massachusetts Democratic Party, which unleashed an orgy of gay bashing innuendo when Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse challenged Richard Neal (D-CIGNA) in the primary.
UMASS, which is very much a part of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) in Massachusetts has bent over backwards to avoid embarrassment, but you cannot put lipstick on a pig:
A recently released report by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has added new evidence of the state Democratic Party’s involvement in the public attack on Alex Morse just ahead of his primary against Rep. Richard Neal. It also found that Morse, formerly an adjunct professor at the school, did not violate university policies, yet the report still delved deeply into Morse’s private dating life with other adults.
In early August, just a few weeks prior to the election against Neal, chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, a number of college students made vague accusations of impropriety against Morse, the youngest and first openly gay mayor of Holyoke.
The involvement of state party officials, who coordinated with the Massachusetts College Democrats to accuse Morse of sexual impropriety, was first revealed by The Intercept and later confirmed by an internal review by the Massachusetts Democratic Party. The new report, however, includes emails and text messages indicating that party attorney Jim Roosevelt took a more active role in the dissemination of the smear than previously known. It also reveals that party leaders were more involved in walking students through media and legal strategies than they had previously admitted. In an interview with The Intercept, Roosevelt denied the allegations; Mass Dems Executive Director Veronica Martinez implied in an email that the new report exonerated party leadership.
Investigators made a detailed exploration into the psychology of the students who ultimately launched the attack on Morse, saying that a key figure in the scandal did not find his interactions online with Morse remotely problematic until other students convinced him in hindsight that they were. A second student also told investigators that he considered his interactions platonic and innocent but that they took on a different connotation when put in the context of rumors being spread by other students.
The report’s authors included trivial information they had collected. “Witness Three reports that he was later told by other students that Morse gave him a ‘look’ when he entered the [October] event (indicating romantic or sexual interest). Witness Three did not observe anything of that nature,” the report found fit to inform the public.
Matt Walsh, a member of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee and a board member of the Bay State Stonewall Democrats, said the exoneration of Morse is welcomed, but that in his view, the manner in which the report was written lingered on salacious details and sensationalized the mayor’s private life.
“I expected an official investigative report by a state university to be an objective assessment of facts, not a tabloid-style gossip piece,” said Walsh. “I’m glad UMass cleared Morse of wrongdoing, but they could have done so without legitimizing homophobic tropes that paint gay men as ‘creepy’ for engaging in consensual relationships.”
The Intercept’s previous reporting revealed that some students had planned to entrap and expose Morse in order to do political damage to the mayor and secure themselves internships with Neal. Neal has denied any involvement in the scheme. Campaign spokesperson Peter Panos told The Intercept in an email that the latest report makes the congressman’s innocence clear.
“This report confirms what Chairman Neal has always said, that he and his staff had nothing to do with these allegations,” said Panos. “We commend the University for their thorough investigation into the facts.”
The report doesn’t conclude anything either way on Neal’s involvement, but does note that there is no evidence of it.
The report makes clear that at least some of the allegations against Morse that later went public were rumor-driven group think, as is often the case in a college setting.
Those concerns extended beyond the school’s group. Student A, a student at UMass, said a friend of hers had had sexual contact with Morse and later felt uncomfortable because of the “power dynamic.” Witness One described her to investigators as “especially adamant that the group needed to go public with what they knew.”
Student A wanted to take the statement to Twitter in July and went so far as to work with Witness One to draft a statement to post to the site, though she ultimately declined to do so.
According to The Intercept’s previous reporting, the report produced for the Mass Dems by attorney Cheryl Jacques, and the emails and text messages reproduced in the new UMass report, the leadership of the UMass College Democrats and the College Democrats of Massachusetts took their allegations against Morse to the state party. College Democrats of Massachusetts President Hayley Fleming reached out to Massachusetts Democrats Chair Gus Bickford and Executive Director Veronica Martinez for guidance as the group prepared to bar Morse from future meetings.
Evidence in the new UMass report implicates Roosevelt in the writing of a letter for the College Democrats to send out to chapters. As one student said in a text on July 29 to other members of the CDMA executive board, Roosevelt advised the students through Bickford and Martinez that “if we want to move forward on leaking it to the press, someone would contact BLANK and tell him (on the record but unattributable so that their name doesn’t get published) that the CDMA eboard voted on this and sent it to the CM.” The full message exchange is attached to the report.
It’s clear that the Neal campaign knew that people who wanted jobs with him were engaging in vicious gay baiting, and would have been impossible for Nancy Pelosi not to know this as well when she pulled out all the stops to support the corrupt Ways and Means Chairman, but I guess those big dollar campaign donations from bad people don’t grow on trees.