Instead of Second Debate, Attack Ad Record-Holder Senator Jehlen Must Condemn MTA

On Friday, September 2, Sen. Pat Jehlen and Liam Kerr, the Massachusetts State Director of Democrats for Education Reform, debated for more than 40 minutes. Realizing the debate did not go her way, Sen. Jehlen proposed a second debate for this afternoon. The following is in response to her proposed do over.

In our debate last Thursday, Senator Jehlen refused to condemn the record-breaking outside spending on attack ads against her opponent. It has been four weeks since outside money started to pour into her race to attack her opponent, and Jehlen has refused to call on the Massachusetts Teachers Association to stop.

There is no reason to accept the challenge of a second debate on outside money in elections from the current record-holder in outside attack ads.

Instead, I ask Senator Jehlen in join us in asking our allies in teachers union leadership to condemn the following actions:

Withholding legally required information from voters: In the recent state Senate election in the First Suffolk and Middlesex, a race decided by fewer than 400 votes, the Massachusetts Teachers Association was fined for failing to report the source of attack mailers within the required reporting period. Groups affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers were required to pay $30,000 in fines for hiding the source of funding in the 2013 Boston mayoral race.

Endorsing Republicans: In the recent state Senate election in the Plymouth-Norfolk district, the Boston Teachers Union and Massachusetts AFL-CIO, of which the MTA is a member,endorsed Republican Patrick O’Connor over progressive Democrat Joan Meschino. The teachers union-endorsed Republican won by fewer than 1,000 votes.

Attacking Democrats: In the recent First Suffolk and Middlesex race, the attack ads sent by the MTA-affiliated group were based on a blatant lie to scare voters. And in Jehlen’s state Senate race in the Second Middlesex district, the MTA has spent more than more than $43,000 attacking a Democratic City Councilor, state Senate candidate, and former Democratic State Committee member. If we are going to bring a Democrat to the corner office in 2018, we must condemn these actions that undermine both the Democratic Party and our democracy. While we may disagree on some education policies and some aspects of elections, we can agree on these basic principles.

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Contact: liam@dfer.org