Politics

MassGOP donors are withholding cash unless the party makes changes

"We have lost our remaining confidence in current party leadership," the 16 donors wrote in a letter.

Jim Lyons Handout
MASSGOP PROBLEMS:

Over a dozen donors to the Massachusetts Republican Party are calling for party leaders to make some big changes or else lose their financial contributions.

In a letter to the party’s 80-member Republican State Committee on Monday, the donors wrote, “We have lost our remaining confidence in current party leadership,” The Boston Globe reports.

The outspoken donors are the latest to level criticism against the party’s top brass, particularly Chairman Jim Lyons, as internal divisions among the MassGOP have become more apparent in recent months.

Fundraising has dwindled under Lyons’ tenure, and the party has a strained relationship even with moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, the Globe noted.

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Now, the 16 donors behind Monday’s letter say they will not provide any more donations if Lyons continues to lead the party. Instead, they pledged $1 million should the MassGOP “reorient party leadership” and take “appropriate action to restore the Massachusetts Republican Party’s reputation,” according to the Globe.

“The State Chair failed to denounce homophobia, used party resources to openly attack 29 of the elected Republican house members, is under investigation by law enforcement for potential campaign finance violations, and is facing calls for resignation from elected officials, past party Chairmen, and from major media outlets like the Boston Herald,” the donors wrote in the letter. “Due to these events, we are no longer comfortable providing financial support to the MassGOP.”

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According to the Globe, which obtained the letter, the donors are Jonathan Bush, Bill Carey, Kimberly L. Dacier, Christopher Egan, Jim Grossman, David Howe, John Kingston, Scott Lemay, Gregg Lisciotti, William McQuillan, Bob Pereira, Daniel J. Quirk, Kevin Rollins, Victor Romeiro, Ray Stata, and Jessica Tocco.

Together, the donors have raised over $900,000 for the GOP over the years, although many have donated to Democrats too, the newspaper reports.

Lyons first came under fire amid turmoil raised in May, when state committee member Deborah Martell made anti-gay statements regarding a Republican Congressional candidate.

Martell, in emails and eventually in conversation, said she was “sickened” by the fact 2nd Congressional District candidate Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette and his husband had adopted children.

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Last month, Martell affirmed she would not be “bullied” into resigning, despite widespread condemnation over her statements, including from Baker.

And while Lyons received calls to take action, he declined to do so.

“Members of the Massachusetts House Republican caucus are demanding that I force a woman of deep Catholic faith to resign from the Massachusetts Republican State Committee,” Lyons said at the time. “I acknowledge that she wrote in a manner that was offensive. However, Massachusetts Republican Party bylaws are clear: freedom of speech and religious liberty are values that are unbending and uncompromising.”

Lemay, a Weston entrepreneur and one of the donors who signed this week’s letter, told the Globe he did not want to support a party that made “alienating comments towards specific groups.”

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Still, Lyons has supporters, including those who believe he handled the situation appropriately. Some say the MassGOP may be facing challenges, but the chairman is not the cause of them.

“Are we in a good position right now? No, because we’re at war with each other,” Todd Taylor, a Lyons ally on the state committee and Chelsea city councilor, told the Globe. “If conservatives win this battle for control of the party, I think we’ll be in a better position to rebuild.”

Twenty-eight members of the state committee also rebuked former party chairs who criticized Lyons in a recent letter, writing that Lyons “has outlined a plan for victory, and we are here to work with him to achieve it,” according to the newspaper.

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