Massachusetts House Speaker Says Ethics Panel Should Discuss State Rep Chris Flanagan Case

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By Sam Drysdale
State House News Service

Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano on Tuesday condemned the actions of a freshman Cape Cod lawmaker, after regulators found that state Representative Christopher Flanagan violated state campaign finance law and subsequently lied about it to officials.

The state Office of Campaign and Political Finance’s investigation and public findings were first reported Monday by CommonWealth Beacon.

The infractions stemmed from a mailer sent out to local homes, ostensibly from a group called “Conservatives for Dennis,” in support of Flanagan, a Democrat who previously chaired the Dennis board of selectmen.

In an April 19 letter to Flanagan, Office of Campaign and Political Finance director William Campbell documented how “OCPF’s review eventually revealed that you created an alias, ‘Jeanne Louise’, to conceal your financial role in the creation of the mailer in support of your election.”

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance tried to contact Jeanne Louise but was unsuccessful.  After Flanagan was formally summonsed by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance last fall, he said he had met the purported organizer of the mailer in 2022 and “went so far as to describe the woman’s physical characteristics.” The very next day, Campbell said, Flanagan admitted through a lawyer that he had made up the fictitious Jeanne Louise.

“Representative Flanagan’s behavior was wrong,” Mariano said in a written statement to State House News Service, “and the OCPF findings are certainly concerning and have been addressed by the appropriate regulatory authorities.”

Mariano continued:  “The House has its own procedures for investigating complaints regarding Members, should that process be initiated.”

The top Republican on the House Ethics Committee, state Representative Jay Barrows of Mansfield, told State House News Service on Tuesday that he had “just literally read” the CommonWealth story.

“It’s certainly worthy of a discussion of the committee,” Barrows said of the ethics panel. “Because there should be no room for that stuff in politics, in elections. So it’s certainly worthy of discussion, so we’ll have to see what happens.”

Barrows said he had not yet heard of an ethics probe being opened. House Ethics is chaired by state Representative John Barrett III (D-North Adams), who did not return a request for comment from State House News Service.

Campaign-related infractions now seem to have significantly siphoned Flanagan’s warchest, which at the end of February had stood close to $10,000.

The Flanagan campaign purged $10,580 in excess contributions in March, while also raising more than $3,000 in new donations, leaving $2,777 in the bank. The campaign then paid a $6,000 penalty in connection with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance investigation in April, and the candidate himself agreed to pay a personal penalty this month of $9,000.

So far this campaign cycle, Flanagan has not drawn any Republican opponent to his swing district, which up until last session was held for years by then-state representative Timothy Whelan, a Republican. Flanagan won his first race in 2022 with 53 percent of the vote against Republican Tracy Post.

Tuesday, April 30 was deadline day for candidates to gather nomination signatures to get on this year’s ballot. But a Republican Party spokesman said party officials are turning their attention to a possible sticker and write-in campaign in the First Barnstable District, which includes Brewster, Dennis, and parts of Yarmouth.

“We’re talking to a couple [potential] candidates” about a possible write-in campaign for the Republican primary, MassGOP spokesman Logan Trupiano told State House News Service.

“We’re certainly looking to jump on it,” Trupiano said, adding that “we’re lining things up.”


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