Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bulk Mailing Permits: Not Much Evidence There

The Boston Herald has been focusing on the apparent link between Councilor-At-Large-elect John Connolly's campaign mailings and the anonymous attack mailings sent the week before the election that he has denied sending -- but which share the same bulk mailing permit number (out of North Reading) as at least some other bulk mailings sent by the Connolly campaign.

How unique is such a match for the bulk mailing permit?

I've been shoving some of the mailings I received during the campaign into a yellow envelope, so this gives me the opportunity to pull them out to inspect the bulk mailing permit numbers. I got two other packrats in town to help out. We all braved the silverfish while reporting for this story. The numbers in parentheses gives the number of unique mailings the three of us received from that candidate. (There might be some duplicates among us.)

#231 (No. Reading, MA or zipcode 01864): Alex Selvig (6); Mark Ciommo (1); Rosie Hanlon (2)
#315 (Brockton, MA): Greg Glennon (3)
#396 (Boston, MA): Steven Tolman/Kevin Honan/Michael Moran [not campaign literature] (1); Steve Murphy (1)
#755 (Boston, MA): Mark Ciommo (4)
#52955 (Boston, MA): Steve Murphy (4)
#54162 (Boston, MA): Tim Schofield (1); John Connolly (5)
#54302 (Boston, MA): Sam Yoon (1)

I'm not sure if permit #231 is the same one out of North Reading on the anonymous mailing the Herald referred to, but it looks like a reasonable inference.

Does the bulk mailing "evidence" mean that Selvig, Ciommo, and/or Hanlon are the real culprits who sent the anonymous mailing(s) with the North Reading bulk mailing permits? Or that the bulk mailing permit line of evidence just isn't a unique piece of evidence all by itself? I'll bet on the latter.

The Herald's linking of Connolly to the remaining anonymous mailings via the evidence of bulk mailing permit numbers is not a unique match: many mailings from various campaigns may use the same permit numbers. Instead, the Herald's reporting should be focusing on the other factors that they are really using to assess a possible link between Connolly and the mailings: motive, means, and opportunity. That's where the discussion should be focused.

No comments: