Metro

Mailings targeting Mass. House Democrats cause a stir

A conservative advocacy group is creating headaches for many incumbent House lawmakers, all Democrats with GOP opponents this fall, who have been targeted by mailings highlighting votes taken on the gas tax, housing benefits, and local aid.

The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, led by Republican State Committee member Rick Green, has targeted 20 incumbent Democrats, including some lawmakers who do not always vote with House leadership.

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Over the past several weeks, those lawmakers and their surrogates, including former legislators such as Geoff Hall of Westford and Pat Walrath of Stow, have sounded off against the group in letters to the editor, interviews, and social media postings for what they describe as misleading and partisan attacks.

Representative James Arciero, a Westford Democrat, has been targeted by two mailings from the alliance in his district, and said it has been frustrating trying to explain to voters some of the assertions made in the brochures.

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Arciero, who sits on the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee, said he is particularly bothered by the suggestion that he supported illegal immigrants over veterans.

“It’s bush league,” Arciero said. “It’s a smear campaign. To suggest the Massachusetts Legislature somehow supports illegal immigrants over veterans is absurd. We lead the nation in providing benefits to veterans and their families, and it’s unfortunate that Mass. Fiscal has chosen to spread information that’s misleading and distorted.”

The vote singled out by the Fiscal Alliance to justify its assertion was one taken during debate on a veterans’ benefits bill. The House clerk ruled out of order a Republican amendment to give preference to veterans in public housing over undocumented immigrants because it was not germane to the bill. Democrats voted to uphold the ruling of the chair.

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Paul Craney, executive director of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, defended the mailings as an effort to educate voters.

“It’s pretty black and white,” Craney said. “Some of these lawmakers are crying wolf saying this is political in nature, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just their voting record.”

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