Former DA's wife targets advertiser for support of 'John Krol Show'

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Editor's note: An audio file first included with this story was taken down and reposted after personal information was removed. 

PITTSFIELD — The wife of former Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless called an online Pittsfield broadcast's lead advertiser, assailing it for backing a program critical of her husband.

In a minute-long voicemail message left June 28 with Berkshire Money Management, Betsy Capeless, of West Stockbridge, expressed her "great dissatisfaction" with the firm for advertising on "The John Krol Show," which appears live on a Facebook TV channel.



The call came several days after Krol had been critical of steps David Capeless took this winter to ensure that when he retired in March, with months left in his term, a longtime prosecutor with his office would be named his replacement by Gov. Charlie Baker.

Capeless' actions, which enabled Paul Caccaviello to run as an incumbent in a coming primary, were detailed in email correspondence obtained and published May 17 by Colman M. Herman in CommonWealth magazine.

In the message she left for Barbara Schmick, the Dalton financial firm's president and chief operating officer, Betsy Capeless cited comments by Krol about the succession issue that she viewed as unfair.

"You guys are sponsoring this show and I want to let you know I really don't appreciate it and neither do the Caccaviellos," she said in the message, a copy of which was obtained by The Eagle.

"I don't appreciate having my husband called a liar, having him be accused of circumventing the democratic process," Betsy Capeless said, "while at the same time playing videos where he explains exactly what he is doing in an open, honest and direct way."

Allen Harris, the firm's CEO and chief investment officer, said that after reviewing the voicemail message, he invited Betsy Capeless to visit his office last Friday to discuss the issue, but she did not accept.

Harris said he plans to continue to lend financial support to Krol's show. The firm provides $24,000 in year in underwriting as the program's lead sponsor.

Harris said he has not followed the three-way Democratic primary contest for the district attorney's post. And because he does not use Facebook he is not a regular viewer of Krol's show.

"No matter what was said, I imagine it would fall within the First Amendment and freedom of speech," Harris said of Krol's program. "Even if something was being said that one party disliked."

Betsy Capeless could not be reached for comment. A message left Thursday at the family's home was not returned. David Capeless responded to several text messages sent to his cellphone with questions about the call, but did not provide a response by 9 p.m. Thursday.

Betsy Capeless' message takes Berkshire Money Management to task for backing commentary on Krol's program.

"There on the show two days ago ... they're calling my husband and Mr. Caccaviello, who is the current district attorney, shady, disgraceful and shameful," Betsy Capeless said. "OK, these are 25-plus-year veterans of the District Attorney's Office who have served this county collectively in a great way for many, many years."

The voicemail message begins with Capeless stating her name and relationship to the former district attorney.

Harris said he first viewed the caller's frustration as an understandable wish to back her husband. But as of Thursday, he said he believes the call was a "wholly inappropriate" effort to "muscle people out of their First Amendment rights. She has no right to use her family power through implied threat."

Krol, who is a member of the City Council, said he grew accustomed to criticism in his earlier work in newspapers and commercial radio in the Berkshires.

He produces his Facebook program through his company, OneEighty Media Inc. Underwriting from Berkshire Money Management is vital to his program, he said.

"You certainly feel that there is an intimidation factor," Krol said of the call to his backer.

In her voicemail message, Capeless speculates that Krol's criticism of her husband is linked to personal bias.

"The reason he's doing this is because Mr. Krol's wife is the best friend of a candidate who is running against Mr. Caccaviello," Betsy Capeless said.

Krol said that while his wife is an acquaintance of candidate Andrea Harrington, they are not best friends.

Moreover, Krol said he has been open on his program about his support for Harrington. In interviews with guests, Krol routinely expresses opinions, modeling his segments more on cable TV shows than on traditional news coverage.

"We have a perspective, but Rachel Maddow has a perspective and Chris Matthews has a perspective," Krol said, referring to two MSNBC hosts. "I don't position as the objective journalist who doesn't have an opinion."

Krol said he believes that given facts in evidence about steps Capeless took to provide an edge to an in-house candidate, he has been fair in on-air remarks.

"We spent an appropriate amount of time on it," he said. "I think it's an important occurrence. We want to assure a democratic process."

Despite one assertion in Betsy Capeless' voicemail, Krol denies he called the former district attorney a "liar."

In one episode of the show, with journalist Eoin Higgins as a guest, Krol refers to the transition between David Capeless and Caccaviello as "a shady handoff, as it were, I guess that's one way to describe it."

Harris said that he does not have a favorite candidate in the race for district attorney post, in which candidates Caccaviello, Harrington and attorney Judy Knight will compete, with one advancing to the November ballot.

"I have more interest in who is going to be the next high school senior president than I am who is going to be the next DA," Harris said in an email message to The Eagle. "That is clearly hyperbole, but the point is I have no proverbial dog in this fight. The fight is being brought to me."

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.



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