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Wagner letterhead causes concern from state office

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

CHICOPEE State Rep. Joseph Wagner said that even after his years in office he could still make a mistake when it comes to state campaigning rules.

"Nobody's perfect, including me," he said last week.

Wagner received a letter last month in which the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) commented on a fund-raising letterhead that had been used for a May event.

The issue is that Eileen Brooks, Wagner's chief of staff, is listed in the letterhead. Massachusetts law prohibits public employees to be involved in political fundraising.

The inclusion of Brooks' name "creates the appearance that Brooks may have been indirectly soliciting contributions," the letter read.

"I think it is a fair point," Wagner said.

The State Republican Committee called the letter to the attention of the OCPF, Wagner said.

Wagner's committee modified the letter before receiving guidance from the OCPF.

"When I realized [the mistake], I rolled my eyes and said, 'Oh my God,'" Wagner said.

The OCPF took no action against Wagner other than requiring him to revise the letterhead.

"In this instance, however, it is out understanding that your Chief of Staff was not actually involved in the fundraising effort and did not intend to solicit contributions. Her name appeared on the fundraising letter due to an oversight by your political committee, which used your constituent services letterhead as a template to create the invitation for the fundraiser. You have stated that your Chief of Staff did not receive calls or contributions in response to the letter and that she had nothing to do with the fundraiser. For these reasons and because the committee has agreed that it will revise the format when drafting solicitation letters in the future, we have determined that this matter may be closed at this time. We also expect that the guidance in this letter will ensure future compliance," the letter continued.