Inflammatory Facebook messages have incited controversy in the otherwise low-key campaign for Suffolk County register of probate, but the candidate involved asserted Tuesday that she not only hadn’t sent the messages, she hadn’t even seen them.
Just days before Thursday’s primary election, a series of rambling profanity-laden rants were posted on the personal Facebook account and campaign page of candidate Patricia “Patty” Campatelli, who is statewide program supervisor for the Office of Community Corrections. The postings include accusations of marital infidelity, illegitimacy, secret homosexuality, and sexually transmitted diseases.
“Ur man is cheating on u,” said one posting on Campatelli’s official campaign Facebook page Sunday, in response to a woman who posted criticism. “You can work the rest [of your life] for minimum wage [or] give ur kids nothing. Rent ur whole life and ur kids and all of ur mans other kids starve u . . . '' it continued, ending with a profanity.
Campatelli denied making the postings but still apologized. “I feel terrible that it happened,” she said in an interview. “I’ll apologize to anyone who’s seen it.”
Campatelli said Tuesday that as many as 20 people from her campaign have had access to her accounts and the phone. She said she had heard about these postings but hadn’t even seen them.
“I know what libel and slander is,” said Campatelli, 48, who is running for Suffolk register of probate against veteran Boston City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina. “Now why would I do that a week before the election?”
Campatelli, an East Boston resident using the campaign slogan “Caring, compassionate, qualified,” acknowledged that vitriolic posts had been coming from her Facebook accounts since June and said she removed half of the approximately 20 administrators with access to the accounts over the summer.
She removed the remaining administrators after the posts made over Labor Day weekend, she said, and changed her password so only she can access the accounts.
While some earlier posts included personal attacks against LaMattina, most have been aimed at regular citizens. Many are directed at two men and their families: Robert Burnett of Lynn and Nick Moulaison of Wintrop, both of whom grew up in East Boston.
Burnett, 42, said he spent several months cleaning Campatelli’s home and helping with her campaign but was only paid $100 for his efforts. Campatelli said Burnett was a houseguest who offered to clean and alleges he stole from her home.
Burnett took Campatelli to court over statements posted on Facebook and sent to him as text messages, requesting a restraining order in Lynn District Court on Aug. 23, court documents show. But the judge said the statements were protected under the First Amendment.
Moulaison, 41, had been in a bowling league with Campatelli for two or three years, he said, but declined to support her campaign when LaMattina, a longtime Moulaison family friend, announced his bid for the seat.
Moulaison said the Facebook accusations made against himself, his wife, and their children have put their lives in turmoil.
Campatelli said she is not the aggressor here, but the victim. She said a disagreement over a personal matter soured her relationship with Moulaison, while she believes Burnett turned against her at the behest of LaMattina.
“We were all friends,” Campatelli said. “This campaign was the worst thing in the world.”
LaMattina declined to comment on the postings, saying he prefers to run a positive campaign focused on the families that come before the probate court needing assistance.
The post oversees wills, adoptions, divorces, and child custody.