The University of Massachusetts Amherst Police Department’s union has disavowed its parent union’s endorsement of GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying the endorsement “does not reflect the views” of its membership.
The New England Police Benevolent Association, which represents over 100 police departments in the region, voted on Dec. 10 to endorse Trump after the Republican frontrunner attended the union’s candidate forum in New Hampshire. Trump was the only candidate who responded to the invitation, NEPBA Vice President Jerry Flynn has said.
The union held a vote of its chapter presidents at the forum and supports Trump in part based on his call to execute people convicted of killing police officers, Flynn told MassLive.
“At the end of the day the body voted overwhelmingly,” Flynn said. “We’re in full support and we’re a united group.”
Not entirely united, according to NEBPA Local 190 President Ted Bonnayer, who heads the UMass police department’s chapter of the union.
In a statement sent to MassLive, Bonnayer said he was blindsided by the endorsement and did not support it. Local 190 does not endorse candidates, he said.
“As president of the NEPBA local 190 I was invited to attend what was billed as a ‘candidate forum’ in Portsmouth, New Hampshire,” Bonnayer wrote. “I was given the impression that there would be multiple candidates in attendance and was looking forward to hearing each of them speak. I was also led to believe that there would not be any vote to endorse any candidate at this event. As you well know Mr. Trump was the only one in attendance that night.”
Bonnayer wrote that he voted against the motion to endorse Trump. The real estate billionaire, who currently sits atop GOP primary polls, has been reliable source of controversy due to campaign trail invective against Mexicans and Muslims, who he has portrayed as threats to the United States.
“The vote to endorse any candidate does not reflect the views of the NEPBA local 190,” Bonnayer wrote. “The endorsement of any candidate was never discussed by the membership of UMAPD NEPBA local 190 as it is not the practice of our membership.”
Flynn, the NEPBA’s vice president, has been a vocal supporter of Trump. His current Facebook profile picture is of him standing with Trump at the candidate forum, and on Thursday he posted a status supporting Trump and decrying the “liberal loonies and socialists who hate cops.”
“Police and law enforcement, I will never, ever, let them down,” Trump said at the candidate forum, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
It is also not Flynn’s first foray into national politics. In September the NEPBA boycotted President Barack Obama’s Labor Day breakfast address in Boston in protest of his “lack of support” for police, the Boston Herald reported.
Flynn said that the union’s board spoke with Trump in detail and vetted him for the endorsement. Every president of the union’s local chapters had the right to attend the forum and vote on the matter, he said.
“The bottom line is if [Bonnayer] was there, he had the right to vote,” Flynn said. “Every local has one vote per local. Everybody who did their due diligence could have been there.”
The NEPBA has faced some other pushback for its endorsement, which catapulted the regional union into a national spotlight. The Durham, New Hampshire police department issued a statement distancing itself from the decision, according to the Foster’s Daily Democrat. Portsmouth Acting Deputy Police Chief Frank Warchol also released a statement saying his department does not endorse candidates, the Daily Democrat reported.
Steve Dondley, a Westfield city councilor-elect whose website development company hosts the NEPBA’s web site, announced on his Facebook page that he would no longer do business with the union due to the endorsement.
“I am no longer interested in doing business with the NEPBA as a result of the board’s endorsement of Donald Trump, a candidate I find to be morally repugnant and antithetical to all the values of the labor movement,” Dondley wrote.
Flynn had a different take on the the statement posted by Dondley, a former labor organizer whose company Prometheus Labor Communications specializes in hosting union web sites.
Flynn told Seacoastonline.com that the union had already decided to stop hosting with Prometheus prior to the endorsement. Dondley said in an interview that while the union had already planned on using a different web service, he was still contracted to host their email, which he will no longer do.