NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

November 3, 2012

Gloves off in final days

Mirra threatens to sue Fogel over mailer

WEST NEWBURY — Just days before the election, charges of dirty politics were flying in the battle for the 2nd Essex District state representative seat.

Republican candidate Lenny Mirra yesterday said he intends to press charges against Democratic opponent Barry Fogel for “intentionally spreading lies about him and his company.”

At issue is a mailer Fogel sent to voters this week highlighting a media report of some alleged safety issues with one of Mirra Co.’s trucking divisions two years ago.

The mailer quoted a Fox News report that a trucking division of Mirra’s family-owned company ranked second worst in the state by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2010 for violating regulations that protect public safety.

The Fox News report, titled “Dangerous Trucks on Mass. Roads,” was published on Feb. 22, 2010 and said that Mirra Co. and several other companies that earned poor safety marks had some of their trucks shut down because of brake problems at some point over the previous 30 months.

Fogel said Mirra Co. earned an unsatisfactory rating from the federal agency as a result, a claim Mirra says is not accurate.

Mirra said the rating was based on incomplete data and was later updated to give Mirra Co. a satisfactory rating. He said Fogel knew that before he disseminated the unsatisfactory report in his mailer.

“I’ve tried to run a clean campaign and stay positive. I’ve never once mentioned my opponent in my mailings, Facebook, website, etc.,” Mirra said yesterday. “Unfortunately, my opponent has chosen to send out a mailer full of lies and distortions about me and my company.”

Fogel first brought up the issue during the candidates’ last debate in Georgetown on Oct. 18, mentioning the report and calling into question Mirra’s credentials on public safety.

Mirra’s explanation for the rating was that his company owns its trucks under two different entities and the initial FMCSA report failed to account for that.

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