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REGION –According to pre-primary filings, Democrat Jesse Reich of Ayer and Republican Sheila Harrington of Groton were neck-and-neck in calendar year fundraising in the race for the First Middlesex House of Representatives seat being vacated in January. Reich reports $17,501. 22 raised from Jan. 1 to Aug. 27. Harrington reports $17,940 for the same timeframe.

But Reich is claiming Harrington’s leveraging financial donations from “pro-discrimination” outfits to fuel her fight. Harrington counters that Reich is diverting voters “from the real issues facing people for which he has asserted no realistic solutions. ”

REICH CHARGES

Reich alleged that $4,685, or 26-percent, of Harrington’s pre-primary campaign contributions came from donors that live outside the district and are affiliated with the Massachusetts Independent Political Action Committee for Working Families (or MIPAC-WF). Reich labels the group as an “anti-equality PAC. ” Reich has challenged Harrington to turn away the donations.

“MIPAC’s singular purpose is to have discriminatory language eroding individual rights and equal protection under the law written into the Massachusetts state Constitution,” Reich charged. He said the group aims to meet its goals by funding candidates who support their legislation.

The entity MIPAC made a $500 campaign contribution to Harrington, and the group’s Operations Director, Chanel Prunier, made a $200 donation in her individual capacity. In all, Reich cites 14 donations to the Harrington campaign that he links to MIPAC.

The MIPAC website proclaims itself as a non-partisan PAC that supports both Republican and Democratic candidates who defend heterosexual-only marriage tenants and letting people vote on whether or not to challenge the legality of gay marriage in the state. “MIPAC believes that protecting marriage and family is not a Republican or Democrat issue, but a people issue,” reads the group’s website.

A check of the donors Reich cited, by and large, did make individual donations to MIPAC historically in varying amounts of money, as well as to the Harrington campaign.

Reich said “While it may not be news that a radical Republican is being funded by radicals, it is however very newsworthy that when Sheila presents herself as a moderate she is actually funded by some of the most conservative groups in Massachusetts.”

Reich states Harrington’s been endorsed, too, by Massachusetts Citizens for Life, an pro-life group which Reich said writes legislation that would “force women to undergo medical procedures prior to enacting their right to choose what’s best forher, her family, or her health. “Reich also said Harrington’s been endorsed by MassResistance, which Reich said writes legislation that discriminates against gay families.

Reich cites a $100 donation to Harrington’s campaign from Kristian Mineau, the President of the Massachusetts Family Institute. Reich labels the group as “another pro-discrimination outfit that shares MIPAC’s goal of writing discriminatory language into the Massachusetts state Constitution.”

On the group’s website, the Massachusetts Family Institute promotes “Judeo-Christian values” and states “all sex outside of heterosexual marriage is detrimental to families and that includes homosexuality. ”

Reich said, “Such overwhelming support from a single narrow interest so far out of step with the values of the families in this district is troubling… Shelia’s position is very far out of touch with our families (sic) values.”

In a press release issued Oct. 13, Reich listed 14 contributions he linked to MIPAC-WF and said he found it curious that they were all dated May 5.

HARRINGTON RESPONDS

Harrington responded by stating her campaign treasurer made a bulk deposit into the campaign’s fund that day and so the contributions were all reported to the state as having been received on May 5.

Harrington said while the focus of her campaign remains on job creation and the economy, “Jesse Reich is now trying to shift the focus away from jobs and the economy to social issues because he has no real ideas to improve the economy except for promotion of green energy technology.”

Harrington said Reich is placing his own personal financial interests before those in the district. Reich is the founder and CEO of Baystate Biofuels in North Andover. Reich touts that the company provides, “a less expensive, American-made alternative to petroleum diesel. “Harrington said Reich’s pontificating on green energy smacks of self-interest.

“Maybe Mr. Reich’s myopic and naïve view as to how to solve these complicated issues in Massachusetts is obscured by his own self interest in green energy production and consumption in Massachusetts,” Harrington said. Harrington said Reich “stands to profit from the promotion of legislation that promotes mandated production of biofuels and green technology. Essentially, Jesse Reich’s entire economic program is simply to develop green energy.”

Harrington said Reich’s charge that she’d focus on “denying social rights to minority populations and groups” is “completely unfounded and put forth to create fear and cloud the real issues. ”

“I have never denied, nor will I ever deny, that I am Pro-Life. I tell everybody I’m Pro-Life. That hasn’t been a secret. So if people support me because of that, that’s their right,” said Harrington.

Harrington added, “I do oppose hatred of any kind” and said that was consistent with what she stated at a pre-primary forum between the candidates. With regards to gay marriage, Harrington added, “However, I do believe that, when the citizens of Massachusetts wish to be heard on an issue, a ballot question should be put forth. ”

Harrington will not state publically her stance on gay marriage and all the legal rights that flow from the use of the term “marriage. “Harrington the 4-3 split Goodridge decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in November 2003 that legalized gay marriage, “affects the entire state. There’s enough people out there that felt they didn’t have a chance to vote on it.”

Harrington said that to the best of her knowledge she hasn’t been endorsed by MassResistance or the Tea Party. Otherwise, Harrington said that PAC money has flowed into both camps.

“Just as the Pro-Choice organizations and other PACS organized under the umbrella of the MassAlliance have supported and encouraged support of Jesse Reich for his views on social issues, Pro-Life supporters have the right to support me,” Harrington said.

“Unlike political officials endorsing you, it’s a little bit different with a PAC. The most they can give is a $500 donation and that would hardly sway my ethical boundaries,” said Harrington. “I can understand that PACs have a value, but Jesse is accepting PAC monies as well. But I don’t think that has any influence on any decision-making.”

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