Gay Congressional candidate and Holyoke, Massachusetts Mayor Alex Morse (D) was accused by a group of College Democrats of sexual misconduct this week. While several members of the queer community quickly expressed doubt and pointed out the blatant homophobic stereotypes in the allegations made shortly before the primary election, the truth has started coming out.
The students lied. They tried to set him up. And they may have done it in coordination with Rep. Richard Neal’s (D-MA) reelection campaign.
The College Democrats of Massachusetts, along with the UMass Amherst Democrats and the Amherst College Democrats, sent Morse a joint email communicating that he was no longer welcome at their events, citing “numerous incidents [of inappropriate behavior] over the course of several years.”
And then they leaked it to the local college newspaper which published the vague allegations, causing a political firestorm in the primary race.
The email did not outline specific stories from students, but instead provided a bulleted list of behaviors that the groups allege Morse exhibited. They alleged he took advantage of College Democrat events to meet students, matched with them on dating apps, followed and chatted with them on Instagram, and one student, the email said, had sex with Morse before finding out he is a mayor and a former UMass Amherst lecturer “and they felt uncomfortable after uncovering this information.”
They also said Morse had sexual contact with college students that included but were not limited to students from the school where he taught. The candidate admitted he had consensual relationships with college students, but pointed out that he didn’t teach any of them and had no power over them.
Morse became mayor at 22 and the encounters would be within his general age range.
“Navigating life as both a young gay man and an elected official can be difficult, but that doesn’t excuse poor judgement,” he wrote. “That’s why I want to sincerely apologize to anyone I have made feel uncomfortable.”
An investigation by The Intercept, however, has revealed that the college students conspired to help the Neal campaign by embellishing their awkward attempts to set the candidate up for scandal. The group denied that they used anti-gay stereotypes as a weapon, saying the idea that their accusations had anything to do with Morse’s sexuality “is untrue, disingenuous, and harmful. The Mayor’s sexuality in no way excuses his behavior. Many of the people involved in writing our letter to the Morse campaign are members of the LGBTQ+ community themselves.”
Chat logs provided to the outlet show the group’s leadership discussing the plan to take down Morse’s campaign.
“I need a job,” Timothy Ennis, the chief strategist and former president for the UMass Amherst College Democrats, says in one message to Andrew Abramson, the current president. “Neal will give me an internship.”
The men also planned to hunt down Morse’s dating profiles to try to weaponize them against him or get him to send something scandalous.
The messages reveal that Morse had only attended one event for the College Democrats since the start of his Congressional campaign and had recently turned down their request for a financial donation, citing money spent on COVID relief as a priority.
Abramson was the only student who chatted with Morse over Instagram after meeting him at the event. The two men had previously matched on Tindr but didn’t meet or chat.
Abramson shared a screenshot of the conversation with friends, saying “Not overt but it’s very clear he’s not talking to me for no reason,” he said. “Like read that message. Also don’t mind me totally leading him on.”
“This will sink his campaign,” Ennis replied.
Neal spokesperson Kate Norton denied any involvement but added that the campaign “commends these courageous students.” When it was pointed out that Abramson and Ennis had conspired to boost the incumbent’s reelection, Norton responded, “The young men you are asking about have no involvement with the Neal campaign.”
“To suggest that our decision to send the letter to Mayor Morse was a quid pro quo with Rep. Neal, his campaign, or anyone else is untrue, disingenuous, and harmful,” the College Democrats posted on Twitter after details started to trickle out.
The Intercept also points out that when the students denied the allegations were rooted in homophobia, they claimed the letter was written “at the direct request of those affected by Mayor Morse’s behavior, and those individuals were involved in the writing process. The stories included in our letter are their stories. They have not spoken out individually about their personal experiences because they wish to remain anonymous.”
That too was a lie. Ennis and Abramson wrote the letter and sent it before informing the members what they had done.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, who has endorsed Morse and stood by him, released a statement after the allegations surfaced, warning the media and voters to “review the allegations and determine whether a straight candidate would be held to the same scrutiny and standards.”
There is no Republican currently running in the congressional race. The winner of the Democratic primary, either Neal or Morse, will likely be headed directly to Congress.