Letter: Why is a Super PAC supporting city candidates

To the Editor,

On September 4, 2020 an editorial written by Westfield City Councilor Dan Allie appeared in the Westfield News. The following day an editorial, in response to that of Councilor Allie’s and written by Kelly Pease, appeared in the paper. Kelly had just defeated Dan in the Republican primary for State Representative. The primary issue involved in both editorials related to mailings supporting Kelly’s bid for the Republican nomination. The literature in question was mailed to Westfield citizens by a Political Action Committee.

Dan expressed his concern that, in such a close election, the outcome might have been determined by an outside organization. Indeed, if only 60 of the people who voted for Kelly had instead voted for Dan, Dan would have won the primary election. Mayor Don Humason’s picture as well as that of his son appeared on the mailed literature. This prompted the Mayor to reach out to Dan and advise him that he had not endorsed any candidate nor had he given permission for the use of his photograph.

In Kelly’s editorial response he stated that he was not aware of the literature until he received one in the mail. After he received the mailing, Kelly contacted the mayor for advise and was told that since he was not legally allowed to interact with the PAC, there was nothing Kelly could do and he should just continue with his campaign. It should be noted that Kelly was an aide to Mayor Humason when Don was the State Senator representing the region that includes Westfield and during Don’s bid for mayor.

Before proceeding I want to make it clear that I had no interest in the outcome of a Republican primary election. I am a registered Democrat. I do, however, have an interest in the fairness and honesty of all elections. I must also state that though Kelly and I share the same last name, we are not related. That being said, I believe all the citizens of Westfield should be aware of the following. Contrary to Dan’s claim that it was “dark money” involved in financing the mailings, the source of the money is known. The financing was done by the Massachusetts Majority Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee (MMIEPAC). The primary donors to this PAC include, billionaires Steven Conine & Nirah Shah who are co-founders of Wayfair, Daniel J. Quirk Inc. a multi-million dollar company with 15 or more car dealerships in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, billionaire Robert Hale who is in the telecommunications business and Raymond Stata a multi-millionaire in the software industry.

MMIEPAC is a super PAC with ties to Massachusetts Governor Baker. Information about how much money a PAC contributes to a campaign must be reported to the Commonwealth. That information as well as information about other campaign donations and expenditures can be easily obtained by a search of the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance website; www.ocpf.us. MMIEPAC spent $3,310.00 to support the campaign of Kelly Pease. Though they spent similar amounts of money to support other local candidates, they did not contribute to Dan Allie’s campaign. $3,310.00 is a significant percentage of the money spent on Kelly’s campaign.

I first became aware of MMIEPAC last year when Don Humason was running for mayor against Michael McCabe. During that campaign MMIEPAC reported contributing almost $20,000.00 to support Don’s bid for mayor. As with Kelly’s campaign, the $20,000.00 was a significant portion of the money used in Don’s mayoral campaign. It should be noted that the mayoral race was closer than the race between Dan & Kelly. A change of just 50 votes and Michael McCabe would be our mayor. Don is Mayor and Kelly is the Republican candidate for State Representative.

I am not suggesting that that should or could be changed, but again it should be noted that Kelly was an aide to Don at the time of the mayoral race. It seems more than a coincidence that both Don and Kelly received support from the same Super PAC. So, why does this Super PAC have such an interest in the politics of Westfield? Is it fair that such a PAC could potentially have an effect on the outcome of local elections as it appears it may have had in these two instances? Shouldn’t the candidates renounce such activity publicly before the election? Shouldn’t a candidate run on his own merit with support from his constituents? What was done may be legal but does that make it right?

Gary B. Pease

Westfield, MA

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