(FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) - The Republican state representative candidate from Athol, Susannah Whipps Lee, is calling accusations that she bought drugs and then had it covered up, "despicable," "unfounded" and "dirty politics."
"I was shocked," Lee told FOX 25's Sharman Sacchetti. Though police would not confirm it, FOX 25 has learned the allegations were leveled by her opponent, Denise Andrews, the incumbent Democrat representing the Second Franklin District.
Lee says she has never used or purchased cocaine. "No, no I'm a local business owner. I consider myself to be a respectable citizen and just a law abiding member of the community."
FOX 25 has obtained the police report detailing the allegations.
Andrews first called police on Saturday, August 11. A few days later, on August 14, she met with Chief Anderson in his office and told him what she says came to her from an unnamed source.
"Allegedly the drug dealer called the police department to report that they had just sold cocaine to another citizen in our town and that using that information, my police department sent a police officer up to that citizen's house, the one who bought the cocaine, and retrieved it from them," Chief Anderson said.
After that meeting, the chief met with Lee.
"He said it was the incumbent, Denise Andrews, who had come into his office and reported that I had purchased cocaine," Lee said. "If it was true, I should be prosecuted. And I was astounded."
The chief says the officer allegedly sent to Lee's home wasn't even on duty that day. The internal investigation took two weeks.
"I was able to determine that the allegations were not founded. Nobody from my police department was involved and that the incident itself most likely did not happen," Chief Anderson said.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Andrews said that reports saying she accused Lee of taking drugs or being forced to take a drug test are false. Andrews claims that she has also been falsely accused of acting with intent to slander or defame Lee and acting in a politically motivated manner.
"Since this is now in the public, let me share that in my job as State Representative, a concerned constituent contacted me in early to mid-August to share a concern that Ms. Lee was involved with the purchasing of drugs, was stopped and confronted by a member of the Athol Police Force and that the drugs were confiscated. The constituent's concern was that if this was in fact true, there was a gross injustice occurring within our district," says Andrews.
Andrews says she takes all concerns seriously and immediately met with Athol Police Chief Anderson to "share this concern" and ask that an investigation be conducted.
Lee said she wasn't even in town when Andrews claimed this had happened. Still, to prove her innocence, she says she took a drug test at a local hospital.
It came back clean. Lee says she looks forward to continuing with the race.
"Dirty politics and bullying is what keeps good honest hardworking people out of politics, and I want to stand up to a bully."
Police say the investigation into the unnamed source is still ongoing.
The chief says it is unlikely charges could be filed against Andrews since police would have to prove she came to them knowing the information was false.
Statement from State Rep. Denise Andrews:
Some disturbing and false statements and allegations have been made publically by Ms. Lee and Fox News. I will briefly address these so you have an immediate and direct response from me as your State Representative. There are four very concerning statements made or implied by Ms. Lee and Fox News that are false, they are:
-I accused Ms. Lee of using drugs; that is false
-Ms. Lee was forced to take a drug test; that is false
-My actions are politically motivated; that is false
-I acted with intent to slander or defame Ms. Lee; that is false
Since this is now in the public, let me share that in my job as State Representative, a concerned constituent contacted me in early to mid-August to share a concern that Ms. Lee was involved with the purchasing of drugs, was stopped and confronted by a member of the Athol Police Force and that the drugs were confiscated. The constituent's concern was that if this was in fact true, there was a gross injustice occurring within our district.
As my job and values require, I take this and all concerns seriously, handle them with professionalism and engage the appropriate agencies to follow up. I met with Chief Anderson immediately to share this concern and asked that he appropriately investigate this matter.
I am confident in my actions as your State Representative that in continuing to do what is right, handling all actions appropriately and professionally we, together, will resolve all issues.
I believe it is important that the public know and that I reiterate that our office policy is to insure the ability to provide high quality and effective constituent services to the residents of the towns that I represent. This is a top priority for me and for my staff. As a public servant, constituents come to me in times of need to discuss problems, concerns and needs, often very private, and that is only possible if I have their trust. To honor that trust, we do not act on or divulge that constituent's name to any person or agency without the permission of that constituent.
Over the past two years, hundreds of constituents have contacted my office on issues great and small. They do so with the confidence of knowing that when I act on the behalf of them and our community, I will do so with professionalism, insure appropriate accountability and due process, confidentiality (when possible) and outcome resolution.
My office advocates on behalf of my constituents before state and local agencies to facilitate communication and to achieve results. I can think of so many instances when my staff or myself has dealt with the most private concerns of a constituent, whether it be over a concern of elder or child abuse or neglect, families having trouble accessing housing after being displaced by a fire or flood, being stopped or arrested for drug use or possession or being denied health care. In each case, our process is consistent.
I want to be clear with residents of the Second Franklin District. When you come to me with a concern, your concern and your privacy becomes my priority. It is a privilege to serve the residents of this district and I do so with the trust you place in me. If my office can be of assistance to anyone, I can be reached at (617) 722-2460.
Second Franklin District