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O'Brien's mail gets through

Last modified: 8/18/2012 12:00:00 AM

House Speaker Bill O'Brien's political mail is now arriving in a timely manner, but he's not convinced that will last, according to his Facebook post yesterday. The post office and postal union, meanwhile, said O'Brien's earlier allegations of internal tampering with his mail are untrue.

"I have heard from some supporters in New Boston that the mailing we posted in Manchester on Wednesday of this week was received the next day, not three to five days later," O'Brien wrote on his Facebook page. "So perhaps the postal problem is solved for now."

Also yesterday, the U.S. Postal Service responded for the first time to O'Brien's allegations that "union thugs" were delaying his prior political fliers because he opposes unions. O'Brien led the failed effort to pass right-to-work legislation this session.

Tom Rizzo, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service's Northern New England District, said O'Brien's allegations were "unfounded."

"The post service takes extraordinary efforts to provide our employees with the training and tools necessary to advance the mail entrusted to us, including political mail, in an appropriate and timely manner," he said in an interview yesterday.

A blogger for NH Labor News was less diplomatic in a blog post on postalnews.com.

Matt Murray interviewed Chris Howe, president of the local American Postal Workers Union about O'Brien's mail complaints. Howe explained to Murray that O'Brien had dropped the earliier mail off at the post office past that day's deadline, so it could not go out until the next day.  The mail was then delivered within two days, Howe told Murray

"These claims are completely false, and the speaker is only trying to promote his anti-union agenda as he is campaigning for re-election," Murray wrote.

O'Brien, a Mont Vernon Republican who is in a primary race for his House seat, first accused postal employees of delaying his mail Tuesday in a post on his private Facebook page. Miscellany Blue, a left-leaning political blog, made that post public. The Monitor independently confirmed the post came from O'Brien's page.

In that initial post, O'Brien said some of his political fliers had arrived in constituents' mailboxes three days after they were delivered to the post office, not one or two days as they are "supposed" to. And one flier had yet to be delivered in Mont Vernon, more than five days after it was dropped at the post office, he wrote.

"My sense is that there will come a time right before (the general election), or perhaps even before the primary, when the unionized postal employees will just stop delivering my mail entirely," the post said.

He also used the phrase "union thugs" in his post.

Howe told Murray he he investigated O'Brien's allegations as soon as he learned of them.

"The speaker's mail was processed and delivered without any delay and with the same high level of service people expect from" the postal service, Howe was quoted as saying.

In his piece, Murray also noted that tampering with the mail is not a trivial offense. It can be punished with a $250,000 fine and up to five years in federal prison, he said. The Monitor confirmed earlier this week that O'Brien did not file a complaint about the mail delivery with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service.

In yesterday's Facebook post, O'Brien did not revise his earlier post. He instead said his latest batch of political fliers, delivered to a Manchester post office Wednesday, arrived to constituents in one day.

He suggested his earlier allegations against the post office were responsible.

"We should all be concerned for candidates who have less of an opportunity to shine the light of publicity on potential misbehavior of this nature," O'Brien said. "Certainly, if any encounter it, let us know and we will try to correct it."

O'Brien, who has set a policy of not speaking to the Monitor because he dislikes its State House coverage, did not return requests for comment.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)'


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