Complaint filed against Pepperell selectman candidate

Facebook post on Friends of Pepperell Recreation page leads to alleged violation of tax law

PEPPERELL -The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance earlier this week filed a complaint against candidate for selectman Denene Premus, alleging a Facebook post violated federal tax laws related to non-profit agencies.

In an email to The Voice, Spokesman Paul Craney said the alliance got a tip that Alison Bagley, a member of the Friends of Pepperell Recreation Inc., shared a Facebook post of Premus’s campaign on the organization’s own page on Oct. 15.

Premus’s post, made on the same night, announced the start of the construction of a walking path at Town Field. The Friends of Pepperell Recreation helped raise funds to pay for the walking path and Premus is also a member of the organization.

“This social media post includes the promotion of Denene Premus’s campaign Facebook page,” Craney said in the email. “Ms. Premus used her position with the organization to advance her candidacy for the Pepperell Board of Selectmen.”

Craney said that because the Friends of Pepperell Recreation is deemed a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by the IRS, the sharing of the post violates federal tax laws.

“As concerned taxpayers of Massachusetts, we urge the IRS to further examine this information,” Craney said. “We believe this information warrants an examination and we hope the IRS will compel Ms. Premus to remove her campaign positing from the organization’s social media group page before the November 18 election.  IRS rules must apply to everyone, including Ms. Premus. Our concern is with the candidate using the non-profit to advance her chances in the upcoming election. Not with the mission or the good work of the non-profit.”

Bagley said in a Facebook message on Tuesday afternoon that the shared post was removed at about 3:50 p.m. and that she shared the post on her own as “nothing more than sharing a proud moment for the group.”

Craney contacted the Nashoba Valley Voice just hours before Premus squared-off against Radwich in a candidate’s night. At the event Premus said she had no prior knowledge of the post.

“That was a post about a very positive project on Town Field that the Friends of Pepperell had worked on for 15 years,” Premus said. “She (Bagley) was doing it as a positive thing. None of us knew that we were doing anything wrong.”

Premus is running against Norman “Joe” Radwich for a seat on the board vacated by Board Chair Lisa Ferolito, who resigned from her position on Aug. 28 after citing issues with Town Administrator Andrew MacLean. The election is Monday.