Selectman Karen Quigley read this statement at the Oct. 15th Selectmen’s Meeting
I am an ardent defender of the right to free speech – even when I am the target.
I also agree with the advice of our facilitator (Editor’s Note: Jeff Nutting recently moderated the selectmen’s goals and objectives discussion) that we need to be a team and not “bash each other outside our meetings”.
However, the misinformation put forth by a small group has risen to a level that can no longer go unchallenged.
This statement is intended to set the record straight on three key points: election fraud, illegal campaign contributions, and defamation of character.
All are serious offenses both legally and to the integrity of Cohasset’s political system.
1. Election fraud is a crime punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. It is not politics as usual.
The campaign manager for another candidate publicly accused me of placing the fraudulent signs myself. Once again, for the record, I did not. Nor did anyone connected with my campaign.
I filed a complaint with the police who investigated the matter. Lacking evidence the police suspended the case. If a civic-minded citizen comes forward with credible information, the case will be reopened.
2. An illegal campaign contribution is also a crime punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. It is a bribe.
This issue was first brought to my attention by town counsel in early July when he was advised by the acting town manager that two citizens were planning to file a criminal complaint against me on the following day for ‘allegedly’ accepting an improper campaign contribution.
In fact, what happened is that my campaign received a $1000 check. I believed it not to be an appropriate contribution and returned the uncashed check to the sender. End of story.
Town counsel investigated the accusation, found it to be baseless, and reported this to the acting town manager. No complaint was filed.
One would think that would be sufficient to put it to rest. Not so. This very same charge was raised again by a town official and given momentum by publication in the Mariner. Any effort to verify the accusation would have shown that there was no truth to the charge, and it was not worth the paper it was printed on.
Last week I consulted with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign & Political Finance, and they too agreed that I had acted totally appropriately and had done nothing in violation of the law.
3. Defamation of character is the action of damaging the good reputation of someone.
The instances cited above are prime examples of defamation as they falsely and publicly allege unsubstantiated criminal acts.
The misrepresentation by the chair of the conservation commission that I would advocate for private property owners over the environment is also defamation. Do I wish I hadn’t blurted out those now infamous words in a stunned response? Yes I do. But…
My recollection of our conversations differs from his. The facts show that contrary to his statement, I am an environmentalist, proud of it, and have a record to prove it.
Two cases stand out to illustrate my uncompromising commitment to the environment and my unwillingness to do what is politically expedient even to my own detriment.
Treats Pond. As a citizen, chair of the harbor health committee, and subsequently as a selectman, I steadfastly opposed the property owners’ proposal to divert significant storm water from their privately owned beach into our harbor.
Cat Dam. When abutters asked the selectmen to become involved, I emphatically insisted we had no role in this matter, as ConCom is the only town entity with jurisdictional environmental authority.
I was resolute in my support not of any abutter but of the technical comments of 7 environmental agencies that were unanimous in opining that the solution proposed by the majority of the abutters would worsen already impaired wetlands.
When ConCom approved the project, I joined with other like-minded citizens to file an appeal with DEP based not on our judgment but on the expert technical comments.
Meeting minutes, transcriptions and recordings as well as newspaper articles, letters to the editor and blogs show this to be true.
In conclusion, disagree with me but in doing so please stick to the truth. Argue the facts. And in the end either come to agreement or agree to disagree but without being disagreeable.