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Mass Fiscal Alliance and the Purchase of Central Mass Politics

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

 

State Representative Ryan Fattman

Mass Fiscal Alliance calls themselves a non-partisan, non-profit organization. They describe themselves as "advocates for fiscal responsibility and good-government policies." This past year, they did their due diligence in a failed attempt to put an end to allowing unions to donate up to $15,000 to a single candidate in a single year. Behind an amendment of newly-elected State Senator Ryan Fattman (R) of Webster, the proposal would have limited union donations to a single candidate or committee to $1,000 per year. 

Mass Fiscal's members' own personal campaign contributions collectively trump that of any union organization in the state.

In a press release from MassFiscal.org, Paul Craney, the Alliance's Executive Director, said "When individuals are limited to $500 and corporations are forbidden from given any money at all, it's outrageous that unions should be able to give $15,000." In the same release, Mass Fiscal Alliance said Fattman's amendment would "close the campaign finance loophole."

Mass Fiscal and the Sutton REPTC

It seems as if Mass Fiscal has found it's own loophole and a way around the $500 limitations. According to the Office of Campaign Policy and Finance, an individual may contribute up to $5,000 per year to a town or state committee. However, of the 13 members of the "Leadership Team" listed on the MassFiscal.org site, since 2012 more than $60,000 has been donated by four of these "Leaders" and their family members to the Sutton Republican Town Committee. 

As reported by GoLocal Worcester earlier this month, the Sutton REPTC was responsible for more than $82,000 worth of in-kind donations to Fattman's campaigns. In the past two years, the REPTC contributed $57,624.84 to Fattman's State Senate campaign. 

Individuals of Mass Fiscal's Leadership Team and their family members donated $26,200 to the Sutton REPTC in 2014, totaling nearly half of the committee's 2014 donations to Fattman.

Who is Part of Mass Fiscal's Leadership Team?

Mass Fiscal Alliance Finance Director Jim Rappaport

At the top of Mass Fiscal Alliance is the Chairman of the Board, Rick Green, co-owner of A1 Auto in Pepperell. Green made an unsuccessful bid in 2013 for the Massachusetts GOP Committee Chair. He lost to Committee Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes, a former aide to Scott Brown.

Directly below Green is Finance Chairman Jim Rappaport. Rappaport is also on the Board of Trustees for the Rappaport Foundation in Boston. Each year, the Rappaport Foundation awards one student the prestigious Harvard University Kennedy School Rappaport Public Policy Fellowship.

Ryan Fattman was awarded the Fellowship in 2008. 

Mass FIscal Alliance Executive Director Paul Craney

Craney, the former Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. Republican Party, and his wife, Laurie Belsito, the Legislative Director for the Alliance, round out Mass Fiscal's Board of Directors.

Mass Fiscal's Sutton Connection Pushes the Fattmans Into Office

Mass FIscal Alliance Political Director Carl Copeland

Carl Copeland, also from Sutton, Mass Fiscal Alliance's Political Director and former Treasurer of the Committee to Elect Peter Blute, served as Ryan Fattman's Campaign Manager and Chief of Staff. In fact, Copeland was the one who advised Fattman's wife, Stephanie, to run against incumbent Stephen Abraham for the Worcester County Register of Probate seat. Stephanie Fattman beat Abraham by more than 10,000 votes. 

Between 2010 and 2011, Ryan Fattman paid Copeland $9,700 for campaign consulting purposes. 

John Esler of Sutton, owner of Renewal by Andersen, a window company in Northborough, was the Sutton REPTC’s Treasurer in 2013. He now serves as a Director for the Mass Fiscal Alliance. According to OCPF's Local Political Party Guide an individual can contribute a maximum of $5,000 per year combined total to either State or Local Party Committees.

In February of this year, Esler gave $5,000 to Sutton REPTC and in October, Esler gave another $5,000 to the Republican State Committee.

While REPTC Treasurer, Esler’s family contributed $30,000 to the Committee, which was more than double the amount of the committee’s expenditures. $20,000 of that contribution came from members of the Esler family living outside of the state.

Over the course of five years (2008-2012) the REPTC had a receipt total of $42,132.29. In 2013 alone, the only year Esler was Treasurer, the receipt total was $57,000. 

Going into 2014, the Committee had a balance of over $43,000. Fattman announced his candidacy for State Senate in February 2014.

Illegal Immigrants and Campaign Mailer Tactics

This past summer, Mass Fiscal attacked Democrats up for election across the state with campaign mailers containing records of roll call votes of specific lawmakers. Mass Fiscal focused its fliers on voting records of individual lawmakers and, according to MassFiscal.org, "the fliers are intended to educate residents on how their local lawmaker voted on the specific roll call votes." Under the umbrella of "voter education," Mass Fiscal was allowed to run this negative ad campaign. The flier highlighted several issues, including accusing Democrats of denying veterans priority housing benefits over illegal immigrants.

In a written statement, Democratic Coordinated Campaign Chair Ben Downing said, "Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance’s categorically false attack mailers...is everything that’s wrong about politics and is an ugly example of rightwing operatives’ determination to mislead voters no matter the cost."

In 2010, Ryan Fattman ran for State Representative for the first time. According to the 2010 Bellingham Republican Town Committee Year End Report, filed two months after Fattman's election, Don Fattman, Ryan's father and campaign treasurer paid $2,337.79 for multiple direct negative mailers days before the election.  He was subsequently reimbursed on November 10, 2010; just days after the election. 
At the time the mailers were hitting thousands of households, indicating they came from the Bellingham Town Committee, Fattman stated he knew nothing about them, even though his father had paid for them in advance.

Fattman was running against incumbent Jen Callahan,D-Sutton, in 2010. On the mailer from the Bellingham REPTC, Callahan was accused of voting to allow illegal immigrants access to free health care. This was the first mailer that Bellingham REPTC had ever done. 

 

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