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Mathew Helman: Gabriel Gomez Is Another Mitt Romney, and That’s Bad News

Thursday, May 16, 2013

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A “fresh face” in Massachusetts politics decides to run for U.S. Senate. He’s a Republican, and he’s running against a Democrat who is viewed as a national leader in Congress and an expert on a variety of issues. This Republican holds an M.B.A. degree from Harvard, and that Ivy League education led to a career in private equity that hasn’t received nearly as much scrutiny as it deserves.

If that sounds familiar, there’s a reason. It applies to both Mitt Romney’s failed Senate campaign against Senator Edward Kennedy in 1994 and Gabriel Gomez’s current Senate campaign against Congressman Ed Markey. But the similarities don’t end there. Republicans Gabriel Gomez and Mitt Romney have a lot in common, and it reflects rather poorly on Mr. Gomez.

Both Mitt Romney and Gabriel Gomez have faced controversy regarding their taxes. As both men are extremely wealthy private equity moguls, complicated tax returns are to be expected; but, both men’s controversies go well beyond that. We all recall that, during the 2012 Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney notoriously refused to release several years’ worth of tax returns. This led to speculation about what Mr. Romney’s tax returns would reveal, from millions of dollars stashed in the Cayman Islands to abuse of the tax code to reap undeserved tax deductions.

Republican Gabriel Gomez now faces a similar tax controversy. It was reported that, in Mr. Gomez’s tax return for 2005, he took a whopping $281,500 tax deduction as part of a deal in which he agreed to not make modifications to the exterior of his $2.1 million Cohasset mansion. (It may sound ridiculous on its face that Gomez could score nearly $300,000 simply for not renovating his mansion.) What makes this a case of tax abuse is that Gomez is already barred from modifying the exterior of his mansion because it is sited in the Cohasset Common Historic District. This exact type of tax abuse has been included on the list of the “Dirty Dozen Tax Scams.” People have requested that Gomez publicly release his tax return for 2005 so that we could see the extent to which Gomez gamed the system. Like Mitt Romney, Gabriel Gomez refused to release the controversial tax return.

The similarities between Republicans Mitt Romney and Gabriel Gomez go further still, into areas of public policy. Take abortion rights, for instance. When Mitt Romney ran for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he ran as a defender of a woman’s right to choose. However, when Romney ran in the Republican Presidential primary just a few years later, he ran as an anti-choice candidate, calling for the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Mr. Gomez seems to be taking a page out of Mitt’s playbook. To make conservative voters happy, Gomez declares that he is pro-life. However, to avoid blowback from liberal voters, Gomez insists that he would not attempt to change Roe v. Wade. With no record to point to, Gomez is asking voters to blindly trust him as he plays both sides of the issue.

Of course, playing both sides of an issue is nothing new to either Mitt Romney or Gabriel Gomez. Romney famously flip-flopped on a litany of issues including health care, gun control, gay rights, and so on.

Meanwhile, Gomez is under intense scrutiny for a letter he wrote to Governor Deval Patrick while Gov. Patrick was deciding who to appoint to the interim Senate vacancy after John Kerry resigned to become U.S. Secretary of State. Gomez put himself forward for consideration, noting in his letter that “I support the positions that President Obama has taken” on the issues of immigration reform and gun control. However, during his recent Republican primary campaign, Gomez worked furiously to walk back his professed support for President Obama’s positions on those very issues, leaving voters of all political stripes wondering what the heck Gabriel Gomez actually supports.

Both Mitt Romney and Gabriel Gomez have offered dishonest criticism of President Obama’s response to terrorism. Romney famously tripped over his own feet during the October 16, 2012, Presidential debate, in which he wrongly claimed that President Obama failed to call the attack in Benghazi “an act of terror.” Romney was quickly fact-checked by both President Obama and the debate moderator. Gomez, too, has spewed dishonest criticism of President Obama’s response to terrorism. On August 17, 2012, Gomez appeared on MSNBC as a spokesman for the right-wing fringe attack group “Opsec.” Gomez and “Opsec” attacked President Obama over, of all things, the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden.

Both Mitt Romney and Gabriel Gomez seem to prefer to have outside groups do their political dirty work. Outside groups supporting Mitt Romney in 2012 outspent outside groups supporting Barack Obama in 2012 by a total of about $260 million! Gabriel Gomez hopes to garner some of that outside money as he has repeatedly rejected signing the People’s Pledge. Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown famously agreed to the People’s Pledge in 2012 to keep outside money from clogging the airwaves with attack ads, and the effort was a success. Democratic Congressman Ed Markey has reached out to Republican Gabriel Gomez to agree to a People’s Pledge in their race, but Gomez has time-and-time again declined.

The similarities between Mitt Romney and Gabriel Gomez also extend to the staff level and to when it comes to right-wing Republican outreach. Eric Fehrnstrom, who served as a senior advisor to Mitt Romney, also advised the pro-Gabriel Gomez super-PAC “Committee for a Better Massachusetts.” Additionally, you might recall when Romney tried to convince right-wing conservatives that he was shoulder to shoulder with them by awkwardly declaring, “I was a severely conservative Republican Governor.” That sounds a lot like Gabriel Gomez awkwardly insisting to the Boston Herald, “I’m a firm Republican, I’m a conservative Republican.”

Republican Gabriel Gomez may want to play down his many similarities with Republican Mitt Romney. After all, just last November, Barack Obama crushed Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, 61 to 38. Nevertheless, the reality is that the Gabriel Gomez agenda and the Mitt Romney agenda appear to be similar agendas. And the Gomez-Romney agenda appears to favor someone with a Gomez-Romney millionaire’s tax return rather than a Massachusetts Middle Class tax return.

Mathew Helman is a Democratic political operative and non-profit communications professional. A proud product of the Framingham public schools, Mathew has spent the last ten years working in Massachusetts government and politics.

 

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