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Howie Carr: Rise and fall of MassGOP chairman

Jim Lyons, embattled crackpot chairman of the Massachusetts state Republican committee, was a no-show Wednesday night at the only candidate forum before the 70 or so members who will decide whether to hand him another term Tuesday night.

It was a Zoom debate, and he still couldn’t make it. He was sick, he said. Kinda like the party he’s run into the ground.

I call him Jim “Jones” Lyons, because for four years he’s been running the MassGOP as a political death cult, a la Jonestown 1979.

Since taking over four years ago, Lyons has decimated the entire state party apparatus. Bill Parcells used to say, you are what your record says you are.

This is Lyons’ record:

He’s zero-for-everything in statewide constitutional office races, 0-18 in Congressional races, 0-1 in US Senate races, 0-2 in referendum questions (and unable to get enough signatures to put four other questions onto the ballot).

Under Lyons, the number of Republicans in the 200-member Legislature has plummeted from 38 to 28. There were five Republican sheriffs in the state when Lyons took office. There are now two. The GOP has lost one of its two district attorneys.

Now Lyons wants another term… to finish the job. For the Democrats, that is.

Can you blame Lyons for bailing out of the debate? Who could defend that kind of dismal record? And the party is just as bad off financially.

His Question 4 committee, which failed miserably in its effort to prevent illegal immigrants from getting drivers’ licenses, is $44,968 in the hole. Geoff Diehl, the party’s hapless perennial loser, now has $18,015 in “liabilities” from his latest landslide loss in November.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If Lyons would ever file the required financial statements (that were due last Friday) we’d have some indication of just how deep in the red the MassGOP really is.

Yesterday millionaire investor Chris Egan of Westboro emailed the entire state committee, offering to lead a bail-out effort if… the party ejects Lyons next week.

In his letter, Egan mentioned another looming catastrophe – the incontrovertible evidence that Lyons may have illegally colluded with a super PAC over the $53,000 investigation into the sex life of Gov. Maura Healey.

“Being familiar with the relevant regulations,” Egan wrote, “I assume an OCPF investigation is soon to begin, or may have already been initiated.”

Then there’s the attorney general’s probe into the six-figure transfers of funds back and forth between the state party under Lyons and the Fattmans, state senator Ryan and his wife, Stephanie, the Worcester County register of probate.

It’s a complicated story, but for now all you need to know is that Sen. Fattman is concerned enough to have set up a legal defense fund for which he continues relentlessly raising money — $7,000 last month, $9,000 in November, $24,000 in October.

As of yesterday, Fattman’s legal defense fund had collected $219,490.

Who knows what’s coming next in the Fattman probe? What if it turns out somebody hired a private eye to dig up dirt on Stephanie’s Democrat opponent in 2020… just asking for a friend here, you understand.

Trump’s coming to Salem NH tomorrow. Suppose Lyons recovers enough from his recent illness to make his way north to beg POTUS for an endorsement? Obviously, Lyons is a total failure as a political boss, but should he somehow be re-elected as chairman, he’d have more than 40 delegates he’d control one way or another at the national GOP convention in Milwaukee.

Perhaps someone should remind Trump that Lyons fought him to the bitter end as a Ted Cruz delegate to Cleveland in 2016, and that Lyons’ opponent for chairman, Amy Carnevale, was a Trump delegate that year.

Memo to Trump’s Secret Service detail: Tomorrow, if you see a slipper-clad old man dressed like a hobo dragging a bedraggled Christmas tree behind him as he shuffles unsteadily towards the president with his hand out, beware!

At the very least, Lyons will try to put the bite on Trump up for a small loan. It’d probably be the first money the state GOP has raised since the party’s most recent calamitous showing on Nov. 8.

In retrospect, it’s astonishing that Lyons was ever given the power to destroy a once-prosperous, venerable political party. But we all should have seen it coming.

Back in 2003, Lyons was being sued over a failed business deal up in New Hampshire. On May 22 of that year, a lawyer for the plaintiff named Mark Sullivan told a state judge how much trouble he’d had trying to discover anything about Jim Lyons, who apparently had put everything into his wife Bernadette’s name.

This is directly from the transcript of the court hearing:

“I had sent out financial interrogatories to Mr. Lyons. And Mr. Lyons, despite being a physical being on this planet, has no other – it seems no other connections to the planet other than the fact that he’s on it. He has no – no pay, no gross income, no banks, no….”

At the time, Lyons was 48 years old. The lawyer continued:

“He’s not a beneficiary of any trust, he says. He has no interest whatsoever in any real estate, any conversions, any leasehold. He has no interest in any business and has not had any interest in any business in the last five years. He has no stocks… He has no vehicles. He has no interest in any pension, profit-sharing plan. In essence, he has no income of any kind and no expenses of any kind and has had none of that for the last five years….”

Now Lyons is 68 years old, and what little remains of the party he has wrecked is circling the bowl.

Jim Lyons desperately wants another term… to finish the job. The fear is that he will somehow try to run out the clock on the meeting Tuesday night before he can be ousted.

So what if the party is pretty much “insolvent,” as Chris Egan put it yesterday? If there’s no vote, for a few more weeks Jim might keep getting paid $1,900 a week – at least until the checks start bouncing, which won’t take long.

Reelect Jim “Jones” Lyons! What could possibly go wrong?

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