Plot Thickens in Accusations Against Out Congressional Candidate Alex Morse — Is He a Victim of a Political Hit?

Thursday August 13, 2020

Alex Morse
Alex Morse  (Source:MassLive.com)

Last Friday out Congressional candidate Alex Morse was accused of "inappropriate sexual relations with college students before and during his congressional campaign and used 'his position of power for romantic or sexual gain," as reported on this website.

That night Morse, who is currently the mayor of Holyoke, Mass., issued a statement admitting "consensual adult relationships, including some with college students" and "apologized to anyone I have made feel uncomfortable."

But is Morse a victim of some campaign machinations by his accusers that had been in the works for months aimed at sabotaging his campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal? <New information from the website The Intercept published on Wednesday suggests that might be the case.

Morse had attended a Umass Amherst College Democrats meeting in October, 2019. "It was after that event in October 2019 that the leadership of the UMass Amherst chapter began to talk about leaking a story damaging to Morse, according to those online communications," the Intercept reports. At this event Morse sat on a panel with a member of the UMass Amherst College Democrats, Andrew Abramson.

In Friday's letter to the Daily Collegian, the UMass Amherst College Democrats wrote that Morse "sought out students that he met at our events privately on social media, in a manner widely understood by our generation to indicate intimacy." This suggests that Morse hit on more than one student. But on Wednesday the UMass Amherst College Democrats acknowledged Morse only contacted one student, Abramson.

"Morse reached out to Abramson on Instagram to say it was a pleasure meeting. (The two had previously matched on Tinder, Ennis said in the chats, but had never met up. To match on Tinder means both parties must swipe in the same direction in order to begin a conversation.)," writes The Intercept.

Their conversation was casual and friendly with no hints of anything prurient. "Not overt but it's very clear he's not talking to me for no reason," Abramson said when he shared Morse's texts with friends. "Like read that message. Also don't mind me totally leading him on." He added that he accepted the message request "because why not."

"This will sink his campaign," concluded one of the participants, Timothy Ennis, the chief strategist for the UMass Amherst College Democrats, the group who made the initial accusations in the school's newspaper, The Daily Collegian.

Ennis admitted to being a "Neal Stan" and conflicted about going against Morse, The Intercept reports. "But I need a job," concluded Ennis. "Neal will give me an internship."

"After Ennis concluded the chats with Abramson would sink Morse's campaign, the conversation between Morse and Abramson continued for another several weeks,' writes The Intercept. This past April, Abramson replaced Ellis as head of the UMass Amherst College Democrats.

The Intercept reports that prior to The Daily Collegian publishing the accusations against Morse, Ennis "floated the possibility of leaking allegations against Morse to Politico, and, indeed, in June, the College Democrats did so, pitching the story to Alex Thompson, a political reporter at the outlet. Thompson reached out to the Morse campaign as part of his reporting, though ultimately did not run the story until months later, after the college paper ran it."

"Ennis also hoped to capitalize on Leaders of the College Democrats group went beyond merely plans to leak. They also explicitly discussed how they could find Morse's dating profiles and then lead him into saying something incriminating that would then damage his campaign," The Intercept reports.

Ennis acknowledged receiving a screenshot of Morse's Tinder profile. "Ennis said in the chats that Morse had never matched with him or messaged him, but discussed an effort to find him and match," writes The Intercept.

The repercussions to Morse's campaign were immediate. On Monday the Sunrise Movement "suspended its campaigning on Morse's behalf following the allegations, sending a clear signal to other progressives. Additionally, the group's Western Massachusetts Coalition announced on Monday that its members voted to rescind its endorsement of Morse," writes The Hill.

On Tuesday New York progressive House candidate Jamaal Bowman told The Hill he was putting a "pause" on his endorsement of Morse two months after Morse campaigned on his behalf, citing the allegations.

In a longer statement on Sunday, Morse states that he did not abuse his power and that the relationships were consensual. On Tuesday he appeared The mayor defended himself during a Hill.TV appearance on Tuesday, "saying he will not apologize for having consensual relationships. He said that he has not had sexual contact with students in his classes," writes The Hill.

"I want to be very clear: Never in my adult life have I been part of a non-consensual relationship or sexual encounter with anyone," Morse said.

For their part, the Neil campaign has denied any involvement with the initial posting by the UMass Amherst College Democrats. "No. The College Democrats independently came forward, and our campaign commends these courageous students," said Kate Norton, a spokesman for Neal's campaign, when asked by The Republican / MassLive to respond to a statement Morse made in an interview with public radio station WAMC," MassLive reports.

When asked about the involvement of Ennis and Abramson, Norton said: "The young men you are asking about have no involvement with the Neal campaign."

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