Mass. Auditor Bump: I didn't mix business, politics
BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne Bump on Wednesday denied allegations by a former top aide that she conducted political activities out of her Statehouse office.
Bump was responding to a lawsuit filed earlier Wednesday by former First Deputy Auditor Laura Marlin in U.S. District Court.
In the wrongful termination lawsuit, Marlin alleges that she was forced to step down because of her "repeated objections to the fact that Ms. Bump was improperly conducting re-election campaign activities during her working hours and out of her office at the State House, using state employees to assist her in those activities."
Marlin, who worked in the auditor's office from January 2011 until May 2014, also said Bump was attempting "to curry favor with a possible political ally as part of an independent audit." Marlin had previously served as Bump's campaign manager during the 2010 election.
In the lawsuit, Marlin said at one point Bump told an unnamed state representative who was collecting signatures for her nomination papers, to come by the auditor's office to pick up the papers from a staff member. Marlin said she objected saying it was a mixing of campaigning and official business, but Bump dismissed her concerns.
Marlin said Bump dismissed a second complaint when one of Bump's campaign staff members dropped off campaign paperwork at Marlin's office.
Marlin also said Bump "became extremely angry and combative" and "hurled invectives" at her after Bump said Marlin should have contacted the political director of a labor organization during the course of an audit. Marlin said that contact would have compromised the independence of the audit.
Marlin said that discussion took place the day after Bump hosted what Marlin described as a "campaign-related meeting" with the labor organization. The day after the confrontation, Marlin said she was told she was going to be fired.
In a written statement, Bump denied any wrongdoing saying the allegations in the lawsuit "are without merit."
"I have never asked or had others ask any of my staff to conduct campaign activities on state time or in state buildings," Bump said. "I have never scheduled nor have I held a meeting with a labor or political organization in the State House for the purpose of seeking an endorsement.
"Most importantly, I have never allowed any organization or individual to influence the conduct or independence of an audit," she added.
Bump, who has served as auditor since January 2011, said she won't elaborate on her decision to ask for Marlin's resignation, citing Marlin's privacy rights.
Marlin is seeking a series of damages including damages equal to three times her lost wages and benefits, and damages for emotional distress. The lawsuit doesn't ask for Marlin to be reinstated.
Bump, a Great Barrington Democrat, is facing re-election this year.
Bump is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, but is facing a general election challenge from Republican candidate Patricia Saint Aubin, a Norfolk resident.
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