(UPDATED) Collins camp incorrectly cites endorsement by reverend who is backing opponent

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Apr. 27, 2013

Rev. Jeffrey Brown said on Friday that he isn’t endorsing anybody in the First Suffolk Senate race. His statement to the Reporter came after a release from state Rep. Nick Collins’s campaign erroneously claimed the reverend as a supporter.

Days later, Rev. Brown was featured in a 30-second robocall to voters on Sunday, endorsing Collins's opponent, state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry. "Let there be no confusion about who I personally support for the state Senate this Tuesday, April 30," he said, calling Dorcena Forry his "personal choice" and citing her legislative experience.

On Thursday, the Collins camp had sent out a release touting a press event with “prominent” black clergy at the Eliot Congregational Church in Roxbury and saying Rev. Brown and Rev. Eugene Rivers will be endorsing Collins, a South Boston Democrat. The release also featured a statement from Brown, saying, “We need more than race and gender diversity; we need measureable result.”

But Rev. Brown told the Reporter on Friday that he is staying out of the First Suffolk race. When asked about the statement in the release, he said, “That didn’t come from me.” He added: “I’m not endorsing anybody.”

Collins is in a three-way Democratic primary, scheduled for Tuesday (April 30), against state Rep. Dorcena Forry of Dorchester and South Boston Democrat Maureen Dahill. Rep. Forry, who is married to Reporter editor Bill Forry, received the Boston Globe’s endorsement on Friday, while Rep. Collins received the Boston Herald’s support earlier in the week.

Rev. Rivers, who was listed as the contact on the Collins campaign’s release, has endorsed Collins. He said in a text message that Brown’s quote was “mistakenly attributed” and is actually a quote from Rev. Mark Scott. “In the rush to get the press advisory out, it went without a final fact check,” Rivers said.

He then provided a phone number for Rev. Scott, which was a number for the Ella J. Baker House, where Rivers is director. A voicemail message left at the number was not returned on Friday.

Asked about the release and its quote, a Collins campaign spokeswoman said in an e-mail that it was a “misunderstanding by the event organizer.” The spokeswoman, Kristen Franks, said, “We understand that is being rectified. Nonetheless, the Collins campaign is proud of the endorsement and support we are receiving from other prominent clergy, including Rev. Evan Hines, Rev. Mark Scott, Rev. Ivan Cutts, Minister Don Muhammad [Nation of Islam], and Rev. Eugene Rivers III, co-founder of the Ten Point Coalition, as well as Communities United and hundreds of other supporters in the 1st Suffolk.”

The Collins camp was involved in a similar mis-step in March: An advisory promoting a press conference and endorsements from activists from communities of color included the name of Kathy Gabriel, a former candidate for state representative. But Gabriel said she hadn’t endorsed anybody in the race and she did not attend the press conference. The campaign said they had received the list of names from the group behind the press conference, Communities United.

The matter of mis-named supporters also came up on Friday in the other Senate race on the ballot, the one in which Congressmen Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch are dueling for the Democratic nomination for the US Senate seat vacated earlier this year by John Kerry.

The State House News Service reported that Markey’s campaign had incorrectly listed three state lawmakers – Reps. William “Smitty” Pignatelli of Lenox, Tim Toomey of Cambridge and Aaron Vega of Holyoke – as supporters even though they hadn’t endorsed him. “I’m surprised, disappointed, and I don’t know who ever gave them permission to use my name,” Pignatelli told the News Service. The Markey camp later apologized.

Then there was the incident in September 2011, days before voters headed to the polls in a heated District 3 City Council preliminary, when the Frank Baker campaign erroneously touted the endorsement of then-Sen. Jack Hart in a campaign flier. Hart quickly called the move “improper and unauthorized,” and the Baker camp later apologized for the error.

UPDATE: This post was updated at 8:06 p.m. on April 28 with news of Rev. Brown's endorsement of Dorcena Forry.