HomeOpinionPete Fogg: “Silent” Elected Officials Benefited and are Complicit in Smear Campaign

Pete Fogg: “Silent” Elected Officials Benefited and are Complicit in Smear Campaign

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The last couple months have been tough ones in the Fogg household. We’ve enjoyed the changing weather, the wonderful parade of aromas coming from the flowers in the yard, and of course watching our children play sports and wind down the school year. But over all of it, there has been a dark cloud.

In the wake of the public revelations about Darlene Hayes, many bright rays of light have pierced that dark cloud: I’ve been humbled and pleasantly surprised at how many times my wife and I have been stopped in the street, by friends and strangers, to say how sorry they are that we were so viciously attacked just because Ashley wanted to serve our town. I’ve seen many people approach her just to shake her hand or give her a hug and say thank you for what she endured so that the truth could come to light. To the embarrassment of our town, it’s not just in Hopkinton, either. We’ve been contacted by many from outside of town who are aghast that this sort of thing happens, let alone over an unpaid volunteer position. None of these myriad people did anything wrong, but still feel the need to apologize. The support has been from people who identify as Democrats, Republicans, Independents, LBGTQ+, non-LBGTQ+, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, atheist and agnostic. What binds all of them together is that they are decent human beings, who recognize that something went very wrong in our town, and that in addition to hurting our town, it hurt a person. I will say that again, because it seems to be lost on many town officials and members of the HDTC: Ashley Fogg is an actual person.

>> RELATED: Chair of HDTC Used 24 Pseudonyms to Stoke Debate

In contrast to that chorus of support, there is another raft of voices here in town. There have been comments (and more tellingly “No Comment”), statements and responses by town officials and members of the HDTC, and conspicuously absent from every single one of them is an apology. Sure, everyone is “shocked” or “surprised” and “disappointed” or “saddened”. But here is what is shocking and surprising to me: It is only the people who seem to know Darlene best, who have worked with her for years, who have benefited from her leadership at the HDTC, the people whose campaigns have been run and organized by her, that seem to be expressing “shock” and “surprise”. Literally no one else is. Even before the story broke that unmasked her there was a public outcry identifying Darlene as the mastermind of the smear campaign that my wife endured. Yet her closest friends and colleagues had no idea? Disingenuous doesn’t begin to define their comments.

No one needs a full recounting of the last couple months. But let me sum up from a different point of view: Ashley Fogg ran a positive campaign, after being encouraged to run by two sitting School Committee members. Both were HDTC members, although to their credit one of them resigned from the HDTC Board after she received heat when it was revealed publicly that she had supported Ashley’s campaign. At the first of two public events, two of the three candidates for School Committee (one was too busy to show up) were peppered with a disproportionate number of questions about LBGTQ+ issues, many of which weren’t even within the purview of the School Committee. The majority of those questions were submitted by HDTC members. The very next day, a close friend of Darlene Hayes attacked Ashley on her Facebook page as being intolerant and told her she didn’t belong in Hopkinton. What followed is now well-documented: there was a flurry of gossip and rumor about how Ashley wanted to ban books, hated transgender people, had a secret anti-LBGTQ+ agenda, and even said absurd things like that she valued gun-rights over child safety. Many of these slanderous and false narratives were being liked, bumped, and shared by members of the HDTC. None of it is remotely true, and all of it was and continues to be deeply upsetting to Ashley, me, and unfortunately even to our children, who despite our best efforts have not been entirely insulated from this garbage. NO OTHER CANDIDATE IN OUR ELECTIONS WAS SUBJECTED TO THIS. No other candidate was trolled and flamed online with hateful accusations. Why? Because Ashley candidly said she had conversations as a private citizen with teachers and administrators about her children’s curriculum? That makes it okay to loudly and persistently brand her as intolerant and hateful? By their silence it would seem the HDTC thinks so. And if that’s the case, then they are ALL complicit in what Darlene did. They were all thinking it and they were happy to benefit from Darlene saying it.

In you haven’t already, put yourself in Ashley’s shoes. She’s a caring and diligent mother of three beautiful kids and she loves this town. She sees the issues facing our schools and wants to help. Do you watch or attend every school committee meeting? Every town meeting? Because she does. She loves kids. All kids. As a family we have many friends and even family members who identify as LBGTQ+ and we love them. We are followers of Jesus, but that is not a prerequisite for any of our friendships. Many may misunderstand our faith, but for us it’s not about judgment, it’s about love. We don’t ask anyone to believe what we believe. We meet everyone where they are and try to love each person the best we can. In that light, the accusations have been particularly damaging, because at their root, all of them are saying the same thing: Ashley hates. But ask yourself who is more intolerant: Ashley, who has worked hard to love and serve our town as an unpaid volunteer? Or the folks who have cowered behind their screens and assigned hatred to her without evidence? We are not perfect people. Those occupy the same mythical space as unicorns and dragons. But we are also not hateful people. If anyone in town who knows us had anything to say to the contrary I’m sure you would have heard about it by now.

Ashley and I have been contacted by over a dozen people imploring us to seek legal action against Darlene Hayes and/or the HDTC and others. We have a mountain of saved conversations, witness statements, and other documentation that would make legal action possible, and that’s not to mention what we are fairly certain would be uncovered with the right subpoenas and investigations. We are weighing our options. I’m an attorney, but I’ve devoted my practice to defending people, not attacking them. And for the record, I’ve forgiven Darlene Hayes and the HDTC. Life is too short to harbor bitterness. Honestly, we were just hoping that someone… Darlene, or someone that has benefited from and/or participated in Darlene’s reign of terror in our town… would apologize publicly. We were hoping at least one of them would stand up in front of our town and say not that all of us can DO better, but that they should have DONE better. But alas, instead we’ve been “disappointed” and “deeply saddened”.


Pete Fogg

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  1. Pete, you have put your thoughts and feelings out there so eloquently. Thank you for that. I personally feel disgusted that Ashley has been put through what she has been. Your entire family should never have been put through this! As you close your statement, you bring up such an important point, can Darlene, simply apologize and own to such horrible mistake(s). Clearly not, which makes this entire situation far worse, and make me truly wonder, what is wrong with this woman? She has severe mental health issues, this really couldn’t be any more clear. My heart goes out to your entire family.

  2. Spot on. There will be no apologies from the HDTC or from Darlene Hayes. What Darlene did was not created on her own. HDTC was involved and Darlene was their scapegoat. I have known Darlene Hayes for many years and over the years she has become a vindictive person in sheep’s clothing her friends are aware of who she really is but look the other way to get what they need from her. She wanted so badly to be part of a certain inner circle and was able to accomplish it but so called friends and colleagues within that circle will turn their back on their own when there is fire.

  3. Until the HDTC comes out and issues an apology to all the residents of our town, for the actions that their chairperson appointed by them took on behalf of the HDTC, I don’t believe we can ever have a fair election in this town again.

  4. We’ll said, Pete, and I echo the above comments. My only question is How and Why is she still serving on 4 town boards?

    Also noticed that Nancy “Punky” Drawe made a post to Darlene today on Facebook telling her “don’t worry, everything is gonna be alright”. Is it because Darlene is good friends with the chair of one of these committees???? Maybe I answered my own question.

  5. The timeline of events is also indicative that Ms. Hayes improperly influenced the outcome of a public election by using the media to spread falsehoods, both libelous and slanderous. Had it been disclosed that Ms. Hayes was actually 24 people in one prior to the election, I would have made it a point to vote for Ashley.

    Instead, as a happily disconnected resident, I was lied to and cast a vote I now regret. Using these underground tactics among certain groups on FB, socially, etc. would be fine if they were not perpetuating falsehoods in public politics. They smeared Ms. Fogg, rigged the outcome, and then it comes out Ms. Hayes is a complete fraud.

    I agree, Ashley and the rest of the town residents are still due an apology, directly and publicly, from Ms. Hayes. The town is due an apology from those who played dirty politics. All involved in any way must resign if faith is to be regained.

    This whole matter stems from gossip among people with too much time on their hands and willing to use any tactic to denigrate others to support their singular viewpoints. Do not stifle freedom of thought or speech, and do not eliminate open and free debate in a fair forum. The town has learned the hard way that allowing campaigns to be run underground has devastating consequences for the outcomes.

    What happened is now in the past, so it is incumbent on those in leadership positions to act like leaders moving forward. Non-paid officials are essential and should be treated well. They do not deserve what Ashley and her family went through. While unfair to Ashley, we must move ahead and focus on complete transparency for those of us who rely on the town news (two sources as well) to provide truthful and unbiased assessments.

    More rigorous oversight of posting protocols is also necessary. If you are not willing to attach your name to your ideas, please do not post them under an alias. Identity verification minimizes the spreading of fiction from a woman with 24 personalities.

    This will always be viewed as a scar on the integrity of town politics. The true test is our willingness to facilitate the healing, while focusing on planning that ensures a level playing field. There should also be a cap on how many town positions one can hold. Ms. Hayes amassed her ability to sway people by running as many boards as possible. Obvious tactic. We must learn and react to this sequence of events, not brush it under the carpet.

    ~Chris Swezey, Hopkinton~
    Concerned Libertarian

  6. I am also happy to challenge Ms. Hayes to step up and act like she was remorseful. I challenge her supporters to apologize for their blind willingness to follow someone with no credentials. And, I challenge the town Democratic Party leaders to explain how this happened and how it will never happen again. Denying this opportunity to admit actions will say everything WE need to know about who is overseeing our local decision-making. The truth always comes out. Be ahead of it.

    WE will also find out if individuals act in their, or our, best interests. Sad that a citizen has to challenge politicians publically to do the right thing. Prove to us that the trust we have placed in you is deserved. Please listen and issue a statement that matters. Clear the deck so we can move on. It is the honorable thing to do.
    ~Chris Swezey~
    Concerned Libertarian

  7. Is there no one within the closed Facebook group Housewives willing to share what is being said within that group? Do you ALL support this contemptable behavior?

  8. It is disgusting what happened here. I am embarrassed for the town I have lived in for 22 years.
    The fact that there are too many conflicted people in the town (paid town employees) that were involved in any manner with Hayes makes me feel like it is hopeless for Hopkinton

  9. Hayes should publicly apologize, step down from any & every elected or volunteer position she holds, never seek any public position again – in Hopkinton or any other town- and seek appropriate mental health counseling/medication. I also suggest she finds constructive ways to spend her apparently abundant free time, say join a gym or sign up for an anger management class.

  10. Town politics is a blood sport and has been since its earliest days. Am I defending DH? Nope. Just sayin. Also wish that a quarter of the level of outrage being expressed over this VERY SERIOUS ISSUE had been aimed at any one of the following: a police office now indicted for raping a girl violating not only her but the community’s trust and the town thinking that it was enough to suspend him when the matter first came to official light? Or the fact that absolutely no town official has paid any attention to lack of oversight on safety at the LNG plant until it was reported on here?? Or that the response to the news that a firefighting training organization had used Fruit St. property for years and there’s no telling how many chemicals seeped into the land with the totally disingenuous response that they weren’t interested in how it happened but were instead focused on the future? Or the fact that town officials have engaged the services of a PR firm and spent God-knows-how-much money on a slick publication as a newspaper insert, which was nothing more than puff piece on water quality? At least the PR firm seems to be earning its keep.
    I haven’t even gotten to the marauding gangs of middle schoolers wreaking havoc in the downtown. I mean aren’t we already paying another company with big trucks to do that?
    There are lots of issues that need our attention folks and this horse has been beaten to death. Want to improve the town? show up, volunteer, get involved, vote.

  11. If you have forgiven her, then why keep the rhetoric going? She personally stopped by your home to apologize this weekend…and left a card and peace plant. Then an article written by your wife appears today. Stop the chaos. While mistakes were made and she owns it, Darlene has also done a lot of good for this town.

    • KF you appear totally out of touch with what has unfolded over the past 2.5 months with this comment. If someone made up bold faces lies about you, told them to all of their many many friends due to the elected positions they hold, then figuratively punched you in the face 24 times, would you accept flowers and a card and move on? And who’s the one causing the chaos again? It’s not the Fogg family.


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