Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Federal Postal Regulations May Have Been Violated in Anonymous Mailings

Boston City Councilor-At-Large-elect John Connolly was again in the news over the weekend related to the anonymous mailings sent out the week before the November 6th election. Connolly has admitted to sending out two of the anonymous mailings that attacked Councilor Stephen Murphy, but did not claim responsibility for any other anonymous mailings that were sent out -- although one or more of them have printed bulk mailing permits as other Connolly flyers.

Last weekend, the Boston Herald looked into the the legalities surrounding some of these anonymous mailings related to their use of fictitious return addresses. While the State Legislature passed a law in 2006 allowing anonymous mailings in Massachusetts, there are additional federal postal regulations that must be followed. The Herald reports:
...sending bulk mailings with bogus return addresses could be a violation of federal postal regulations if there was “intent to defraud,” according to Doug Bem, a spokesman for the United States Postal Inspection Service.
The article gave no indication if there was an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The legal condition of "intent to defraud" is probably the big hurdle that any such investigation would have to address. As long as no one steps forward to take responsibility for these mailings, then it would seem like the "intent to defraud" hole is, in effect, being dug deeper by the day.

I noted in a previous post that one of the anonymous mailings that no one has stepped forward to take responsibility for could also pose a problem for whomever sent it, because it mentions voting against a particular candidate for public office; such mailings must be declared to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, yet there is no record of the "South Boston Association" on file at the OCPF's online database.

Connolly's problems just continue to mount. He has chosen not to apologize either for the anonymous nature of the mailings or their content. He will become a colleague with Councilor Murphy, who may not offer forgiveness to someone who hasn't apologized. He appears to be linked to a mailing -- although he denies it, according to the Herald -- that has yet to be fully disclosed under state campaign finance rules. And now he appears to be linked to a mailing -- although he also denies it -- that could be in violation of federal postal regulations.

Connolly's a lawyer. He's got some skills there he may need to use in the days and weeks to come.

No comments: