GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 18, 2012

Tisei edges Tierney in quarterly fund-raising

Congressman says his donations rose in response to GOP website

By Jesse Roman
Staff writer

For the second straight quarter, Republican challenger Richard Tisei raised more money than Democratic incumbent John Tierney in the race for the 6th Congressional District.

According to federal election filings made public over the weekend, Tisei pulled in about $354,000 from Jan. 1 to the end of March. Tierney raised about $325,000 over that span.

Despite being out-raised the last two quarters, Tierney still has nearly a 2-to-1 advantage in campaign finances, thanks to a head start and money left over from previous campaigns. Tierney now has $795,000; Tisei has about $454,000.

"The big number we're looking at is the 2-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage. That's what's going to be used in the campaign," said Matt Robison, Tierney's campaign manager. "The congressman is in a very strong position."

Tisei's campaign manager, Paul Moore, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

But Tisei, a former state senator from Wakefield who made a failed run at lieutenant governor alongside gubernatorial challenger Charlie Baker in 2010, is widely seen as the strongest competition Tierney has faced in years. Since announcing his candidacy in November, the challenger has raised about $666,000, outpacing Tierney by about $180,000 over that time, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Tisei has received a lot of attention from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has done everything but announce that it believes the Massachusetts 6th District is fertile ground for a Republican takeover. In recent weeks, the NRCC has sent emails blasting Tierney on everything from health care to high gas prices and launched a website, howcouldtierneynotknow.com, referring to the illegal offshore gambling operation allegedly run by Tierney's brother in-law, Robert Eremian.

Tierney's wife, Patrice, pleaded guilty in 2010 to aiding and abetting her brother in filing false income tax returns that concealed the true source of his money in the gambling enterprise. Tierney has professed that neither he nor his wife knew of the family's illegal activities.

A couple of weeks after the website launch, the NRCC sent 250,000 text messages to voters across the district that read: "Congressman John Tierney claims ignorance to his family's illegal gambling empire. What else is happening on his watch?"

But the Tierney campaign says the Republican effort may have backfired.

Federal Election Commission filings show that Tierney's fund-raising was sluggish prior to March 8, the day howcouldtierneynotknow.com launched; he had only 17 donations totaling about $14,000 prior to that date. After the site went live, money came pouring into the Tierney campaign, Robison said.

"The response (to the website) was overwhelming; it was something else," he said.

Tisei has not commented on whether he supports the website and has not weighed in on whether it should be taken down.

As was the case in the first quarter, Tisei raised the vast majority of his money from individual donors, $321,000, while getting only $33,300 from political action committees. Tierney raised about $208,300 from individuals, while taking in $116,700 in funds from PACs.

The vast majority of those PAC donations came from out of state. More than $100,000, or 87 percent, of PAC money donated to Tierney came from outside Massachusetts, while $26,500, or about 80 percent, of Tisei's PAC donations did.

Many of Tierney's PAC donations so far come from labor unions, such as the American Federation of Teachers ($10,000), the American Dental PAC ($4,500), International Longshoremen's Association ($10,000) and others. He was also helped by several PACs affiliated with congressional colleagues such as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Congressman Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Congressman Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y.; former Massachusetts Rep. Marty Meehan; and others.

Notable donors to Tisei include his 2010 running mate Baker, who donated $5,000; Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan's Prosperity PAC, which donated $2,500; and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund PAC, which donated $2,500.

Jesse Roman can be reached at jroman@gloucestertimes.com.