FROM OUR PRINTED SEPT. 2019 EDITION
by Lonnie Brennan
What in the world was Republican State Committeeman Reed Hillman thinking when he wrote (or more likely ghost-wrote) his ridiculous missive (we’ve posted his letter online at BostonBroadside.com) to the Republican State Committee members (the governing board of the MassGOP), attempting to justify past extravagant spending on everything except candidates?
Paraphrasing Shakespeare, I think the man doth protest too much.
Plenty of Money for Perks and Parties, a Pittance for Candidates
With the entry of new MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons, for the first time in memory a bit of sunlight has been spread onto the lavish spending, parties, dinners, and perks (millions) of the perpetually losing MassGOP. The Party that barely registers on the political Geiger counter in Massachusetts.
For the fourth straight election cycle, MassGOP downticket candidates were given window dressing, as the leaders of the MassGOP lived the good life with free dinners, free parking, free phones, free trips, free everything. Meanwhile, during those election
cycles, the Republican Party failed to increase their numbers by even one lowly seat in the Legislature.
Indeed, upon the recent exposure of such wasteful spending, and attacks by Hillman and others of his ilk against Lyons for beginning to audit the books, candidate after candidate has broken his or her silence, exposing the lies they were fed, the fake support they were given, and the false actions taken by the prior MassGOP leadership. On this page we’ve printed one letter of support for Lyons signed by 15 former candidates, most of whom received little to no real support from the MassGOP. Two of those candidates lost their races by less than 3% of the vote.
The Spend Money to
Make Money Defense
In his epistle to his colleagues on the 80-member MassGOP State Committee, Hillman contended that it takes money to make money, and that certain expenditures were needed to secure donations. He even suggested that the MassGOP was very adept at bringing home the bacon from donors.
What Hillman ignores are the expenditures, detailed in the daily papers now, with hundreds of thousands of dollars fritted away. Think of it: More than nine million dollars spent over a two-year cycle and all you have to show for it is zero gains in legislative seats. And losing an important sheriff’s position.
Hillman also ignores certain little details, such as possible campaign finance violations, possible IRS code violations, and possible class action suits from angry donors, convinced that their donations were “not used for the purpose intended.” For the politically naïve, that means that donors generally like to see their money used to field candidates and win elections, rather than pay for escargot and caviar treats at the Park
Hillman chastises the new and transparent leadership of the MassGOP for exposing past extravagance by stating that negative press might sway donors to not contribute to the MassGOP. Meanwhile, he ignores the fact that individuals working for the Baker campaign literally stole access to the single most important fund raising tool that the MassGOP had! How can the MassGOP raise money when they don’t know who the donors are? (Locked out of their donor database, they had to rely on trolling through old reporting to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, and other labor-intensive searches.) Hillman is a political hack water-boy who never worries about little details. He instead chooses to play the game that the Establishment Republicans have played (quite successfully) for years: Do not air the dirty laundry or else the money will dry up and so will the lavish parties and parking perks! Well, those days are hopefully over with a new sheriff in town. Sunlight is the best disinfectant and Chairman Jim Lyons has already stood firmly, rejecting the ways of the Baker/Hughes/Hillman past, and instead is focusing on candidates. Truly focusing on candidates.
Will he be successful? Time will tell. The point is, at least the current MassGOP has pledged to support candidates, not serve as just a money-laundering scheme of fake support to the candidates. (We could go on for pages detailing that one, and perhaps we will in a future edition.)
Red Curve Charged with Pulling a Fast One – Swaps Out a Check to Lockout Database from MassGOP
Hillman mentioned the FEC and OCPF in his missive, apparently trying to tell the MassGOP that they can just look things up online and all is fine. Well, the Federal Elections Commission and the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance each have rules – and the rules demand that the Baker campaign stay completely separate from the MassGOP money.
By insisting that they have access to a product they never paid for (the Salesforce online database), certain individuals connected to the Baker campaign really pushed the envelope here. Most unfortunate are the actions of a money processing firm called Red Curve out of Beverly, Mass., through which the MassGOP and the Baker campaign passed their funds.
Documents released from the MassGOP revealed that Red Curve, at the direction of individuals connected to the Baker campaign, manipulated payments: They revoked a payment from the proper MassGOP account at the direction of these individuals who had no authority over the account. (Yeah, that sounds confusing, but the bottom line is, they pulled what those in or out of politics have termed “a scumbag move.”)
So, this evokes the question: Is Hillman giving his blessing to violating campaign finance rules and regulations? Or is he just happy to encourage and support losers and losing? As a former superintendent of the (significantly and repeatedly tainted leadership in the) Massachusetts State Police, one would hope that Mr. Hillman had a better understanding of the law.
When Does a Perk Become Taxable Income?
When you play fast and loose with other people’s money, sometimes it comes back and bites you. Noteworthy to mention is that the IRS has strict statutes when it comes to compensation for things such as parking. An employee can exclude $255 per month in parking compensation from ordinary income. After that – about $3000 per year – the benefit becomes taxable. That being the case, the math does not add up. The calculation of the monies spent would indicate that 30 employees got compensation. The problem is that the MassGOP had nowhere near 30 employees. So did high level employees receive upwards of $20,000 or so in parking without reporting it to the IRS? So, is Hillman taking the stance that it is all well and good to ignore IRS requirements?
Out with the Old
Time for the New
Hillman is right on one count, at least, when he questions who will want to donate to the MassGOP in the future. But he is wrong about the why. Donors will not be put off by headlines, but by the excessive spending and waste of their donations. Only when donors are convinced that their money is used for the right purpose – growing the Party and getting our message out – will donations come in the door. Doing things the right way for the right reasons is never a bad thing. Chairman Jim Lyons has finally brought that attitude to the Massachusetts Republican Party executive leadership board. For the first time in a long time the future may be bright for the MassGOP. ♦