Romney, Dirty Tricks Edition

From the Boston Globe, Nov. 4 2002:

A last-minute round of accusations roiled the gubernatorial campaign yesterday when an independent conservative group blitzed Boston radio with an ad that urged supporters of Green Party candidate Jill Stein to vote for Republican Mitt Romney.

The ad features a man and a woman who praise Stein, but decide to vote for Romney as a practical matter. The woman refers to Stein admiringly as "a female version of Senator [Paul] Wellstone," referring to the liberal US senator who died in a plane crash in Minnesota 10 days ago.

Supporters of Democrat Shannon O'Brien called for the ad to be pulled off the air, saying that it exploited Wellstone's death for political purposes.

An OCPF investigation eventually discovered that the key guy behind that ad was long-time Bain Capital cohort and Romney buddy Robert Maginn. If Romney didn't care for this kind of tactic, it's a little odd that he subsequently made Maginn co-chair of his national presidential fundraising committee, and just recently helped install him as Mass. GOP chair (where he will handle national inquiries into the former governor's record). As I recently wrote:

In the final days of that 2002 race, Maginn, along with deep-pocketed GOP donor John Childs, secretly funded a radio ad urging supporters of Green Party candidate Jill Stein to vote for Romney. Maginn and Childs each funneled $25,000 through an attorney to a Washington front group, avoiding disclosure requirements for ads in the final week of an election.

Maginn and Childs fessed up to the dirty trick after the election, when the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) traced the money to them. They were penalized with a laughable $500 fine.


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