MassGOP party chair reported by party treasurer over campaign finance law concerns

The MassGOP’s party chairman has been reported to state authorities for potential violations of campaign finance laws, according to the party treasurer.

According to an email sent by MassGOP Treasurer Pat Crowley to state party members, Chairman Jim Lyons was working closely with a political action committee in the months leading up to the General Election despite laws barring a party from coordinating with PACs in any fashion.

Crowley wrote to party members that he reviewed documents Thursday morning which “suggests direct coordination between Jim Lyons in his capacity as Chairman of the MA GOP and Antoine Nader, Chairman of the Mass Freedom Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee.”

He added: “As coordination between a candidate or committee and an IEPAC is not permitted, I have reported this to (the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance).”

Lyons did not respond to a request for comment on this story. Nader could not be reached for comment.

The PAC was reportedly used for opposition research into then-AG Maura Healey as she ran for governor becoming the first woman and lesbian to be elected to that post in the state.

The trouble started, according to Crowley, when a bill arrived from a private investigations firm demanding the MassGOP pay over $53,000 it apparently owes for opposition research that Lyons allegedly arranged during the campaign between now Gov. Maura Healey and Republican former state Rep. Geoff Diehl for the Corner Office.

When Crowley met with the firm, Boston-based STIRM Group, they shared documents with the treasurer demonstrating, he alleges, that Lyons had engaged their services but had not paid the tab.

The documents also showed, Crowley told other GOP party committee members, that Lyons had been working with Nader and the IEPAC, and doing so despite a determination in February of 2022 by OCPF that such a relationship is expressly forbidden by state law.

“Prohibiting any communication between the chair or other officer/agent of the state party and the IEPAC would be the best practice,” a letter to Lyons from OCPF Director Will Campbell dated March 8 reads.

Lyons has faced criticism in recent months for his leadership during a disastrous November election cycle, after which Republicans lost the governor’s seat, failed to win a single statewide race and regressed in the Legislature.

He faces a party election at the end of January, when he is expected to be challenged for his $100,000-a-year position leading a severely diminished Republican apparatus.

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