Alex Morse, a 31-year-old gay Democrat who’s running for Congress in Massachusetts, has admitted to having consensual sex with college students and apologized to “anyone I have made feel uncomfortable.”
Morse’s statement came in response to a letter from college Democratic groups in the state, accusing him of using “his position of power for romantic or sexual gain,” according to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.
The groups allege that Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, has had sexual relations with students at UMass Amherst, where he is a lecturer in the department of political science, as well from other schools in the Five College Consortium, during his campaign. They accuse him of meeting students as young as 18 on dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr. He also connected with them on Instagram, adding them to his “Close Friends” story and direct-messaging them, which made some of them feel uncomfortable.
“Numerous incidents over the course of several years have shown that it is no longer appropriate to encourage interaction between College Democrats and Alex Morse,” the groups wrote. “Alex Morse should know that as an elected official, a high-profile candidate, and a lecturer at a large public university, he holds a position of power over many young people. Many young people around the state and around the country, especially those involved in College Democrats, view Morse as a role model, which renders it unacceptable for Morse to routinely make sexual or romantic advances, whether implicitly or explicitly. … Even if these scenarios are mutually consensual, the pattern of Morse using his platform and taking advantage of his position of power for romantic or sexual gain, specifically toward young students, is unacceptable.”
In a statement provided to the student newspaper, Morse stressed that all of the relationships were consensual.
“However, I also recognize that I have to be cognizant of my position of power. I am committed to meeting with any person or group, including the College Dems, to answer any questions and address any concerns,” he wrote, referencing his struggle to accept his sexuality in high school after growing up closeted.
“As I’ve become more comfortable with myself and my sexuality, like any young, single, openly gay man, I have had consensual adult relationships, including some with college students,” Morse said. “Navigating life as both a young gay man and an elected official can be difficult, but that doesn’t excuse poor judgment.”
Morse, a progressive who became the first openly LGBT mayor of Holyoke at age 22, is challenging longtime Democratic Congressman Richard Neal in the Sept. 1 primary.
More from POLITICO: Morse is one of several left-wing congressional candidates endorsed this cycle by Justice Democrats, the group that helped Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Jamaal Bowman of New Yorkand Cori Bush in St. Louis defeat Democratic incumbents in primaries. … Earlier this week, the progressive Working Families Party endorsed Morse as the left looked to notch a few more victories this cycle. And another progressive group, Fight Corporate Monopolies, which is affiliated with American Economic Liberties Project, is spending $300,000 on ads attacking Neal and boosting Morse. .. “I’m sure that my opponent will be eager to twist this into something it’s not to score political points, but I would caution him against indulging in old negative stereotypes about gay men,” Morse said in a statement to POLITICO. “I will not apologize for living life out of the closet, for going on dates and having consensual conversations.”