A sign promoting Jackie Cilley for governor is up at one of the most prominent locations in Exeter.
The marquee of the Ioka was recently changed to read "Vote Jackie Cilley for Governor."
The endorsement was approved by Alan Lewis, a Kensington philanthropist who bought the historic building at an auction last year. The Ioka dates back to 1915 and formerly showed movies.
Lewis has been working with the Exeter Theater Company, a nonprofit group planning to turn to Ioka into an art house that will show movies and plays, among other performances. Lewis has discussed leasing the building to the theater company, but no deal has been finalized yet.
The theater company moved quickly to distance itself from the endorsement, releasing the following statement:
A political advertisement has been placed on the Ioka Theater marquee by the current owner of the building. This was done without our knowledge or consent. As a non-profit organization, the Exeter Theater company cannot and does not endorse any candidate.
Nonprofits are prohibited from participating in political campaigns because of their tax-exempt status. Federal rules wouldn't apply to the theater company for the Cilley endorsement, since it doesn't own the Ioka.
Lewis couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.
Cilley, of Barrington, is up against Exeter's Maggie Hassan for the Democratic nomination for governor. The Primary is in September.