Third-graders in East Bridgewater and Whitman came home from school with a note last week. Typically, that’s not news. But this note included an invitation to a fundraiser for a freshman state representative, a violation of state ethics rules.
Representative Geoff Diehl, a Whitman Republican, said today he is sorry for sending the note on Thursday, and he now realizes it violated the state law that bars the use of public resources for private campaigns.
“Really, it’s a lesson learned,” he said. “I feel horrible for the ramifications.”
The note invited parents to enter their children in a lottery, with the winners participating in a reading of “The Ride of Paul Revere,” at Diehl’s fundraiser with former New England Patriots player Steve DeOssie, on Patriots’ Day, April 18.
“Kids 12 and under eat FREE,” the note reads. “Adults $25.”
The flier, which teachers handed out to students at the end of school, does not make clear that the proceeds go to Diehl’s campaign account.
Susan T. Cote, superintendent of schools in East Bridgewater, said she only realized it was a fundraising solicitation after a parent who had supported Allen McCarthy, the Democratic incumbent whom Diehl defeated last fall called the school to complain.
“Once I realized it would go to his campaign, I said, ‘Oh. I should have never sent that home,'” Cote said.
Diehl said he has also contacted the State Ethics Commission, which told him he would not be penalized if he does not continue to solicit funds through the schools. The fundraiser, he added, will go on as planned.
Michael Levenson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.
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