Report: Claims against congressional candidate Morse concocted to boost opponent

Group that accused Jewish progressive of inappropriate relationships with college students revealed to be behind year-long effort to discredit him, actively sought to entrap him

Alex Morse is challenging longtime incumbent Rich Neal in Massachusetts' 1st District. (Rob Deza via JTA)
Alex Morse is challenging longtime incumbent Rich Neal in Massachusetts' 1st District. (Rob Deza via JTA)

In a bizarre turn of events, a new report casts doubt on allegations that Massachusetts congressional hopeful Alex Morse had inappropriate relationships with college students.

Morse, a 31-year-old gay Jewish progressive Democrat running to unseat a longtime incumbent, was accused last week by the College Democrats of Massachusetts of having used “his position of power for romantic or sexual gain” in relationships with college students. Morse has been the mayor of Holyoke, a city of 40,000 near Springfield, for nearly a decade.

The allegations, revealed in an article in The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, claimed that Morse had matched with college students on dating apps, attempted to contact students he met through campus events and had inappropriate relationships with students at UMass Amherst, where he taught a course on urban government. In that article, Morse said he had relationships with college students but they were consensual.

But on Wednesday, an article in The Intercept said that College Democrats had been discussing a plan to attack Morse since last year. The article said that leaders of the group discussed finding Morse’s dating profiles in an attempt to get him to say something inappropriate to damage his campaign. The group’s chief strategist, Timothy Ennis, allegedly claimed in group chats that he was attempting to secure an internship with Rep. Richard Neal, the centrist Democrat whom Morse is seeking to unseat. The Neal campaign has denied any collaboration with the students.

Politico reported that the Massachusetts Democratic Party plans to investigate the college Democrats who accused Morse of misconduct — but not until after the September 1 primary.

Morse was elected mayor of Holyoke, his hometown, at 22, becoming the youngest and first openly gay person to lead the city. He has aligned himself with “the Squad,” a quartet of progressive congresswomen of color. In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last month, he defended the four representatives against accusations that their criticism of Israel veered into anti-Semitism.

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