The House Republican leadership, with the cooperation of Democratic leaders, quietly attached an amendment to an election law bill last month that would allow the cash-strapped state GOP party to raise unlimited donations to pay for an expensive legal battle with Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher. If the House version of the bill becomes law, the Massachusetts Republican Party can avoid a serious financial pinch caused by the nearly $100,000 in legal bills it has so far incurred in its fight with Fisher. Halfway through this election year, it now has only about $247,000 in its account, with its legal bills threatening to eat up the money it needs to mount challenges to Democrats in statewide and legislative elections this year.
The four-word change, which was proposed by House Minority Leader Bradley Jones, is now in the hands of the Senate. It would restore state party committees to the list of entities that can create legal defense funds under state campaign law. Campaign statutes now allow only individuals or their campaign committees to create those funds, after party committees were banned from doing it five years ago.
In addition to covering its own costs, the party may also be faced with paying Fisher’s equally large legal bills. He is suing the GOP to prove that party leaders defrauded him when they said he missed getting on the September primary ballot by a handful of delegate votes at the March convention.