LTE: PAC’s Come to Reading

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After serving 9 years, over 150 meetings, on the Reading Municipal Light Board (RMLD), I am now running for re-election. You may have recently received a full color, large format mailing extolling the virtues of my opponents. This was a very expensive mailing that the candidates did not pay for.

Did you see the tiny print in the corner that it was paid for by the Environmental League of Massachusetts IE PAC? If you ask legal counsel in the Office of Campaign and Political Finance in Boston, they say,

“The IE PAC doesn’t give the candidates any funds – the IE PAC buys the communication and mails it, without telling the candidates ahead of time or otherwise obtaining any information from them. If the IE PAC uses pictures or statements of the candidates, they have to obtain them from publicly-available sources, like a website or Facebook page.

If the IE PAC did give funds, or otherwise get the input of the candidates before mailing the piece, then it would be a problem. “

I found this astounding because, as an elected volunteer serving on the RMLD, I have to take ethics training yearly, where over half the course dwells on how to handle a $50 gift. In the meantime, tens of thousands of in-kind dollars are directed through these questionable campaign gifts.

If you examine this group, they state, “Field First is helping the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund run their Municipal Light Plants Project, helping elect environmentally-friendly voters to their local municipal light board.”

My interpretation is that they wish to control all of the municipal light plants in Massachusetts.

The use of these national campaign tactics for local elections appears to me to be unwarranted and should be illegal. What happened to judging a candidate on the merits of his/her ideas and service to the local community?

A vote for me will ensure the RMLD moves forward in a responsible, calibrated manner for all our customers.

Respectfully submitted,

John Stempeck

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