Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump was sued Wednesday by her former top deputy for allegedly using her state house office illegally to get an endorsement by a local union.
Laura Marlin, the former top deputy, believes that Bump violated the law by using taxpayer time and money to campaign by seeking an endorsement by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in her state office, the Boston Globe reported.
According to the Globe, Marlin claims that Bump “earlier this year distributed nomination papers from her state office and scheduled a campaign-related meeting there to seek the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union Local 509, a human service workers union and one of the state’s most politically influential.”
Additionally, Marlin “said that Bump violated her First Amendment rights, ran afoul of state whistleblower laws, and wrongfully forced her to resign in lieu of being fired after Marlin protested what she called overt electioneering on taxpayer time.”
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Marlin believes Bump gave SEIU preferential treatment.
In the lawsuit, Marlin claims that “the auditor later told Marlin that she should have contacted the SEIU political director while working on a March audit of the Department of Children and Families.”
However, Marlin adds, many of the employees at the department were also members of the SEIU, which may have led to the audit not being as severe as it should have been.
Not long after Marlin, “complained to Bump that she was violating the standards of the US comptroller general, presenting her with a memorandum to that effect,” the Globe reported.
Marlin told the newspaper Bump “became extremely angry and combative” and “hurled invectives at Ms. Marlin, at times raising her voice and using foul language.”
Marlin says that on the following week, Bump told her “she could no longer trust [Ms. Marlin] to act in the best interest of the organization” and fired her.
However, Gerry McDonough, the general counsel at the auditor’s office, told the Boston Globe that, “The office of the state auditor had cause to ask Ms. Marlin to resign.”
“The office disputes any contention by Ms. Marlin or anyone else that there was any improper motivation behind the reason to do so,” McDonough adds.
McDonough adds they did have reason to ask Marlin to resign but that “I don’t think we could go into a personnel matter like that here. She has certain privacy rights. We will of course address those in the course of litigation if it does come to that.”
Marlin’s lawyer, Hillary Schwab, disagrees, telling the Boston Globe, “This is a strong case and exactly what the First Amendment and whistleblower acts were intended to protect against.”
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