Jennifer Benson's question misleads and slanders her opponent at debate

[ed_note]We received the following message from Kurt Hayes, a candidate for State Representative in the 37th Middlesex District.[/ed_note]

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The first debate between Democrat incumbent Jennifer Benson and Republican challenger Kurt Hayes in the battle for the 37th Middlesex district State Representative seat took place at Lunenburg Town Hall Monday evening. The spirited debate included an opportunity for each candidate to ask their opponent two questions. Benson used one of her questions to mount a misleading and slanderous attack on Hayes and IBM, the company for which Hayes has worked for 20 years.

Benson asked, “Kurt, in 2008 IBM was required to refund to the Commonwealth $13M for selling the state software products it didn’t need in violation of state bidding rules. You currently work in software sales for IBM and have stated that you intend to remain with the company even if you win a seat in the legislature. How will the people of your district know if you are representing their interest or the interest of your primary employer, a company found to have violated state bidding rules?”

Responding after the debate, campaign spokesman Bob Lashua said, “Jen Benson needs to do simple fact checks to ensure she doesn’t launch misleading and slanderous attacks like the one we saw here tonight in which she attempted to tie her opponent to the actions of a company for which he never worked. The scandal around indicted former House Speaker Sal DiMasi involved Cognos, not IBM. IBM later acquired Cognos, cleaned house, and pro-actively settled with the state for the bad behavior of a few at Cognos. The state even complimented IBM for ‘doing the right thing’ in refunding the money back to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth in order to correct the situation involving Cognos and Sal DiMasi, the Speaker whom Ms. Benson voted to re-elect as Speaker just days before his resignation in disgrace.”

Lashua continued, “At best, this shows that Jen Benson is a State Rep. who isn’t thorough in her research. At worst, this shows a Beacon Hill politician willing to launch misleading and slanderous attacks on her opponent in a desperate attempt to keep her seat on Beacon Hill. In either case, Ms. Benson owes Kurt Hayes an apology and the voters an explanation. It’s vital that voters know they can trust their elected leaders to be careful in their research and truthful with their words. As soon as one shows they don’t check facts, or worse, makes them up, they lose credibility with those their peers in the State House, and they lose trust with the voters they represent.”

IBM is a well-respected organization, having a reputation for being an ethical, upstanding company and good neighbor in the communities in which it operates. IBM is also universally recognized for having one of the most diverse and talented workforces in the world. IBM is consistently ranked at or near the top as great companies to work for.

Kurt Hayes has public stated on many occasions that if elected he will cut back his hours at IBM in order to serve his district in the Legislature. More than 50% of State Representatives and Senators in Massachusetts maintain a part-time private-sector job in addition to their position as State Legislator.

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