The University of Massachusetts – Amherst College Democrats has issued a letter apologizing to gay Democratic congressional candidate Alex Morse for the “distress” and “homophobic attacks” triggered by a letter they released earlier this month accusing the 31-year-old mayor of inappropriate behavior.
The local chapter, which is now under new leadership, also sent a letter apologizing to its membership, in addition to the note apologizing to Morse.
“We want to tell you that we are deeply sorry for the distress that the public reaction to the letter must have caused you,” the chapter wrote in the note, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill.
“However, we should have realized that the language of the letter was careless and played into homophobic stereotypes that have been used to oppress gay men in politics,” the letter continues.
“We understand that no apology of ours can make up for the homophobic attacks you have suffered as a result of our actions; nonetheless, we wish to apologize.”
The College Democrats had previously accused Morse of using his status as an adjunct professor at UMass Amherst and as Mayor of Holyoke, Mass., which created an alleged power imbalance when he pursued consensual relationships with college-aged students.
Morse denied the allegations, noting that he never pursued relationships with students that were in his classes, and accused the College Democrats of trafficking in homophobic stereotypes in an effort to derail his campaign against U.S. Richard Neal, the House Ways and Means Chairman, for the state’s 1st Congressional District.
Reporting from The Intercept later revealed that members of the College Democrats had tried to entrap Morse by messaging him on dating apps in the hope of getting him to say something controversial and leaking it to the press.
It also found that a lawyer from the Massachusetts Democratic Party had assisted the College Democrats in releasing a letter, published in the UMass Amherst student newspaper, accusing Morse of pursuing inappropriate relationships.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party has since said it will mount an investigation into the claims made by the College Democrats, as well as the text messages highlighted in The Intercept‘s reporting.
The UMass Amherst College Democrats has claimed that they did not intend for the letter to become public, and has rejected the claims made in The Intercept, saying they were not aware of any plans — allegedly made by the chapter’s former leaders — to hamstring Morse’s campaign in order to curry favor with Neal.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which has endorsed Morse, has recently denounced attacks against Morse, including a recent push poll, that have attempted to exploit the controversy.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 1.
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