By Gintautas Dumcius
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE — Defending House Democrats whose voting records have come under attack, House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Wednesday dismissed recent mailings targeted at incumbents as “baloney” and voiced concerns about outside groups spending money in local races.
While not mentioning the tax-exempt organization by name, DeLeo directed criticism toward the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, an advocacy group headed by Republican State Committee member Rick Green.
The group’s mailings knock House Democrats with GOP opponents on housing benefit and gas tax votes.
Democrats say the group’s use of roll call votes is misleading and partisan.
“My major concern quite frankly is we have some of these outside organizations who apparently have millions of dollars to spend, that are setting forth some of these brochures if you will or whatever, setting forth much information, misinformation, as to particular races,” DeLeo told the News Service when asked about the state of play in House races.
DeLeo referred to one issue highlighted by the Fiscal Alliance that focused on a Republican amendment during a debate over a veterans’ benefits bill. Democrats backed the ruling of the chair when an amendment, which the Fiscal Alliance claims would have given veterans in public housing preference over undocumented immigrants, was ruled out of order.
“I’m particularly amazed at the one [mailing], there was one that said that illegal immigrants have more rights in Massachusetts or can do better in Massachusetts than veterans, which I find fascinating considering that we’re ranked number one in the country in terms of what we do for our veterans here, here in Massachusetts,” DeLeo said. “So, you know, it’s that type of baloney, so to speak, I guess, that we hope that people can see through.”
Green, a Pepperell businessman who chairs the Fiscal Alliance, said the group is simply publicizing lawmakers’ votes. He declined to say how much he’s donated to the group, but added that he’s their largest single contributor.
According to the Fiscal Alliance, they’ve spent $289,055 on election communications this year.
“I wish I didn’t have to spend this much money but it’s an expensive business communicating how the legislators vote to their constituents,” Green said.
Green said the amendment mentioned by DeLeo was not procedural and would have helped veterans, if adopted. “Whether they killed it procedurally or with an up-or-down vote, it’s still dead,” he said.
“We may be ranked number one but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more we can do,” he added, pointing to an “incredible problem” in homelessness among veterans.
Under DeLeo, House Democrats have been able to avoid direct votes on many proposals offered by Republican House members because those votes have been trumped by motions to study proposals or motions to rule amendments out of order.
Democrats like Reps. James Cantwell of Marshfield and Jim Arciero of Westford have hit back against the mailings in interviews and on social media. Arciero told the News Service in September that the Fiscal Alliance was waging a “smear campaign.”
Arciero is facing Dennis Galvin, a Westford Republican, and Arleen Martino, who lives in Littleton and is unenrolled. Cantwell has an opponent in James Pavlik, a Marshfield Republican.
DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, also has a Republican opponent, Paul Caruccio of Winthrop.
The election is Nov. 4.