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Custodians take blame for bogus Lynn mailer

LYNN – A mass mailing from the Lynn School Employees Union Voter Empowerment Committee supporting specific candidates for the School Committee and City Council was produced and mailed by Local 1736, better known as the custodian’s union, the union’s head confirmed last week.But according to the City Clerk and City Election Office, the union has yet to file a campaign finance report now two weeks after the election, and could face considerable fines if a report is not filed soon.Union President Mark Raftery confirmed last week that the union was behind the mailer, which featured a mock ballot with the names of the candidates the union was supporting in bold face, and several accompanying newspaper advertisements, but insists the group has nothing to hide.In response to an article in The Daily Item on Nov. 5, which several School Department employees, including Superintendent Nicholas Kostan, stated they had never heard of the Lynn School Employees Union, Raftery said the answer to the mystery was held on the checks used to pay for the advertisements.”No one is hiding from anything,” he said. “All you have to do is look at the check we sent (to the Item) to pay for the advertisements. The check that was paid had Local 1736 right on it, so I don’t know how people can say they didn’t know who sent it out.”Regardless of the name on the flier or the check, City Clerk Mary Audley says the union has not filed a campaign finance report under either name, and is thus in violation of the law.While Raftery claims that the union is covered under the “10/15 rule,” which states that groups that do not engage in political fundraising do not have to file a report if they spend under 10 percent of their gross revenue or $15,000, a close look at the law reveals that the union is still in violation if they do not file.According to Mass.gov, the state’s official Web site, the 10/15 rule states, “political expenditures made by such organizations must be reported and are subject to contribution limitations if such expenditures are for the purpose of aiding, promoting or preventing the nomination or election of any person to public office, or aiding or promoting or antagonizing the interest of any political action committee or political party.”While the union did not select one specific candidate to support, the mock ballot featured names of every candidate, with the names of hopefuls they supported circled and in bold face, and the names of their competitors faded and lost among the busy markings on the card.While this is not in violation of any law, it would suggest that the union was promoting those candidates and preventing the nomination of others, excluding them from the exemption provided in the 10/15 rule.According to Assistant City Solicitor James Lamanna, who confirmed the union is not exempt from filing, there is a mandated amount of time for groups such as this to file campaign finance reports, and once that date passes, they are in violation of the law.It is now the responsibility of Audley to report the situation to the state campaign finance office, and draft a letter to the union stating that they have 10 days from the date of the letter to file a report. If they do not, the state will intervene with a fine for each day the report is late.Lamanna could not give an exact figure of the fine, since it is handed down by the state on a case-by-case basis, but the amount paid by candidates who do not file on time is $10 per day.Head Election Clerk Karen Richards said Audley intends to draft the letter to the union in the immediate future, but wants to take a close look at the mailer first.This controversy is the latest to hit Local 1736, which has been battling the city for months over their new supervision in the city’s Inspectional Services Department.The union was extremely vocal during the campaign season, and backed many candidates in both elections, including Maria Carrasco and Vincent Spirito, who were both elected to the School Comm

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