Just a week after winning his party's Senate special election primary in Massachusetts, Republican Gabriel Gomez finds himself in the middle of two fairly serious controversies. As of yesterday, the novice candidate is handling both poorly.
The first issue is Gomez's involvement in a head-shaking tax scam -- he claimed a $281,500 tax deduction by claiming not to change the facade of his house, despite the fact that he was already forbidden under local bylaws from changing the facade of his house. The Senate candidate, in other words, accepted a very generous reward for failing to do something he couldn't do anyway.
Asked for an explanation, Gomez said it's "disgraceful" and "dishonorable" for his opponent, Rep. Ed Markey (D), to bring this up. Apropos of nothing, Gomez added that the veteran congressman is a "hack."
Of course, that didn't answer the question about his apparent tax scam. Neither did this.
Republican US Senate nominee Gabriel E. Gomez, facing questions about a $281,500 historic tax deduction on his Cohasset home, rejected calls Thursday from the media and Democrats to release tax returns and other details about the deal.
"I have nothing to hide,'' said Gomez on a campaign stop in Lawrence, when asked by a Globe reporter why he would not make public the details about how the federal tax deduction was calculated for the easement to limit changes on the home that the candidate and his wife bought for $2.1 million in November 2004.
Here's a tip for politicians everywhere: don't say you have nothing to hide while you're hiding things without explanation.
Complicating matters, while this story was raising questions about Gomez's integrity, another story was putting the Republican's credibility in doubt.
Gomez is a rookie when it comes to seeking public office -- his only previous experience was running for a local office in his small hometown, and he came in third out of three candidates -- but he's not entirely new to politics. In fact, just last year, he worked with a right-wing super PAC called the "Special Operations Opsec Education Fund," which seemed to exist only to attack President Obama over the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
This week, Gomez sought to distance himself from the smear operation, saying he didn't work for the group he used to work for.
At a campaign event in Boston on Tuesday, Gomez addressed his involvement with the group.
"As far as OPSEC, I did two interviews for OPSEC. I was never associated with OPSEC. I never donated to OPSEC. I wasn't part of OPSEC," he said. [...]
"I was never connected with them in the first place. I just went on there because we overlapped on that issue about the president taking too much credit and, more importantly, they leaked information that was bad for the unit down there and it put their lives at risk," he said.
As Joan McCarter joked, "No, he was never associated with them. He was just the person they put on national TV as their spokesperson."
Gomez was "never connected" with the right-wing group? As a rule, political operations do not send a spokesperson to speak on their behalf on national television unless the spokesperson is, you know, connected to the group.
To answer your next question, I'm not familiar enough with Massachusetts election law to know what would happen if Gomez exits the race, but neither he nor the state Republican Party have much time to deal with these problems -- the Senate special election is on June 25.