Gomez pays appraiser, seeks to end questions on tax break, contraception

QUINCY — Trying to rein in a growing controversy over the tax break he received on his Cohasset home, Republican US Senate nominee Gabriel E. Gomez told reporters today that he has paid the appraiser the $1,000 fee he allegedly owes.

Speaking to reporters after a press conference, Gomez said he paid the bill this morning, though he was “surprised to hear about this $1,000 bill after eight years. I frankly, I don’t even recall the bill.”

The appraiser who claimed he had never been paid filed a complaint in Small Claims Court Tuesday, the Globe reported today.

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Gomez indicated that the appraiser was motivated by past Democratic donations and suggested he was propping up Gomez’s Democratic opponent in the Senate race, US Representative Edward J. Markey.

Campaign finance reports show that the appraiser has given modest donations to several Massachusetts Democrats, including Markey’s primary opponent, Representative Stephen F. Lynch.

“You know, some people have suggested to me that he’s a big Democratic donor and this is just another one of congressman Markey’s dirty tricks,” Gomez said. “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to take him at his word. We delivered a $1,000 check to him today but I can guarantee you one thing: Unlike congressman Markey my check will not bounce.”

Gomez was referring to Markey’s involvement in a check-bouncing scandal more than two decades ago in which the House bank allowed members, who got paid at the end of the month, to overdraw their accounts without penalty.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee put out a Web video last week hitting Markey on the issue and saying he’d bounced 92 checks.

Gomez, a first-time statewide candidate, held the press conference at the John Adams statue outside Quincy City Hall calling for term limits for members of Congress. He pointed to three scandals emerging from Washington, D.C., this week, including continued confusion over the attacks in Benghazi, news that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted conservative groups, and revelations that the Justice Department seized Associated Press reporters’ phone records.

“It just further highlights the lack of transparency and the abuse of power down in D.C.,” he said. “I don’t think anything screams more or louder for term limits. One of our greatest founding fathers here, John Adams, advocated strongly for citizen servants, to go down there, do your time, come back to the people you serve.”

Asked more about the $281,500 tax break he sought for preserving his house, already in a historic district, Gomez said, “This is why people hate politics.” He said he followed the law on historical preservation, which Representative Markey has supported.

Following a Globe story showing he was unclear on his position on abortion and contraception, Gomez also declined to answer specific questions on his views about the Blunt Amendment, a 2012 measure that would have allowed employers to deny workers birth control based on their own moral beliefs. Gomez reiterated that he is prolife, but that he would not seek to change abortion law.

He rebuffed four questions on whether he would have backed the Blunt Amendment that caused such controversy in the last US Senate race. Asked whether employers should be allowed to refuse to provide birth control, he said, “I’m not going to play politics on this,” and accused his opponent of mudslinging.