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Dobelle spokesman lashes out at accuser

Westfield State University president Evan Dobelle struck out at Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland on Saturday, accusing him of conducting a biased investigation into Dobelle’s conduct because he is seeking the university’s top job himself.

“[Freeland] and operatives on Beacon Hill are now fighting to push Dobelle out so that Freeland can stay in the state pension system,” Dobelle spokesman George Regan said in a statement.

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Regan said in a phone interview that two officials, one of whom is “fairly high up in the educational process of the state,” told Dobelle that Freeland was lobbying for the president’s job.

The accusation came a day after the commissioner, a former president of Northeastern University, sent a letter to Westfield State’s Board of Trustees condemning Dobelle’s alleged use of university funds for personal purposes.

“The bizarre tone of Commissioner Freeland’s letter should call into question his ability to work on this matter moving forward,” Regan’s statement said. “The angry, over the top language he used to address the Board of Trustees sounds like the words of a jilted lover, not a commissioner of higher education.”

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The statement described Freeland as “emotionally unhinged” and “a desperate man who will do anything and say anything to gain power and get his revenge.”

Freeland could not be reached immediately for comment.

Todd Feathers can be reached at todd.feathers@globe.com. Follow him on twitter @ToddFeathers.
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