SEABROOK — Two selectmen called on a state representative to resign Monday after learning he claimed on social media that a retired police officer engaged in criminal activity, including involvement in “cocaine parties.”
At a board meeting, Selectwoman Theresa Kyle criticized state Rep. Max Abramson, who represents Rockingham District 20 and is also a Seabrook Planning Board member, for a post he made on Facebook claiming a retiring Seabrook officer was involved in criminal activity, drugs and fighting.
“I know we can’t control social media, but when I see an elected official at the state level insulting one of Seabrook’s policemen, who has served this town for many years, I find that absolutely disgusting,” Kyle said. “That person should be held to a higher level.”
By the end of the meeting, Kyle and Selectman Aboul Khan – who also is a state representative – called for Abramson to resign from the Legislature and Planning Board.
In a private group message among Seabrook state representatives, one member posted a link to a Seacoastonline article written about a retiring Seabrook police officer. State officials in the group chat were discussing issuing the officer a commendation for his years of service, but Abramson wrote that he didn’t want his name included on any citation.
“(The officer) basically lied, played games and withheld evidence during my self-defense case,” Abramson wrote on the forum. “He is one of the dirty dozen crooked cops with a history of drug use, fighting and criminal conduct on that police department and he knows what I think of crooked cops.”
Another member wrote, “I knew there was bad feelings there. Thanks for letting us know” to which Abramson responded, “Not bad feelings. He is a crooked cop.”
In a phone interview with The Daily News on Monday, Abramson said he refused to support the citation because of the Seabrook officer’s conduct as a police prosecutor. Abramson said that in a self-defense case he was involved with in January 2011, the Seabrook officer refused to turn over evidence.
Khan, a Republican who also represents Seabrook in District 20, explained the messaging group was created to let state representatives discuss bills and transportation to the Statehouse for meetings, among other things.
Khan said he took Abramson’s comment “very seriously” and told several people this message was written in the group forum before it was brought up at the public meeting Monday.
“It is very disturbing to me,” Khan said. “That person, working in Seabrook, he should not be representing any residents on any boards or committees on the state level. If he has any shame whatsoever, he should take full responsibility.”
In addition, Khan criticized Abramson for mentioning other police in the same context without any proof.
“He mentioned there is a group of people related to drugs,” Khan said. “Bring the evidence to the selectmen that (these officers) do drugs. When you say something, have some responsibility.”
In the interview with The Daily News, Abramson said he could not confirm that he wrote the comment because he didn’t have it in front of him. However, Abramson noted, “I definitely did say that he was involved in drug parties,” specifically “cocaine parties.”
“I’ve been told that by a couple people around town,” Abramson said. “When people tell you something that they’ve seen, you have to believe it.”
He continued, “We have a lot of good officers in the state. I’d say 90 percent of cops that are good shouldn’t have to suffer for the 10 percent that are bad.”
Selectwoman Ella Brown mentioned that Abramson allegedly had a personal issue with the Seabrook Police Department “and he always has.”
Khan called for Abramson’s resignation. Kyle agreed, saying Abramson should be banned from sitting on any board in town. Seabrook Beach resident Joe Giuffre asked Khan whether the state has an ethics committee that could look into the issue. Khan said he plans to approach the other two state representatives to discuss taking the issue further.
“I hope the other representatives in this district, two others, that they come forward and we can do it together,” Khan said. “We can ask the ethics committee about some kinds of things that need to be done because it’s getting out of hand. We are very upset about it.”
Khan said town and state officials work hard for every department and that they have a “very clear eye” on all town employees. He continued, noting the Seabrook Police Department is doing “the best of the best” to serve the public, and while the public has a right to criticize anybody, an elected official should be held to a higher standard.
“We have an elected official on this board and on the state level making a comment about one of our professional first responders, and that person, from what I hear from people who have dealt with him as a police officer, has always been very kind and helpful and did not deserve that,” Kyle said.
The Seabrook officer is retiring at the end of July. He could not be reached by press time Monday.
Staff writer Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.