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Adrian Walker

Gabriel Gomez an outsider or preset insider?

Life has been good to Gabriel Gomez, the Republican US Senate nominee. In fact, we keep learning just how good.

Late last week the news broke that Gomez received a $281,500 federal tax deduction on his Cohasset mansion in 2005. He got the break for not altering the facade of the historic residence.

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The house is located in a historic district in Cohasset, which does not allow such alterations in the first place. But apparently that’s no reason not to take a massive tax break.

Challenged to explain, a testy Gomez set a new standard for chutzpah. He claimed that his tax break is really the fault of his opponent, Ed Markey — because in 1981, Markey voted for the law that established tax breaks for historical preservation.

Got that?

Andy Hiller of WHDH-TV cornered Gomez and asked a few questions about it, or tried to. What he got back from Gomez was this: “I don’t apologize for any success I’ve had. Absolutely not. I’m proud of everything I’ve done. I’ve worked for everything I’ve done. I’ve earned everything I’ve done.”

Gomez is an accomplished military veteran who has earned many things in his life, but he certainly didn’t earn this. Even the Internal Revenue Service has decried the historical-preservation deduction he took as a farce.

The questions about Gomez’s taxes probably haven’t ended, either.

On a financial disclosure form filed in March, Gomez said that under his separation agreement from the private equity firm Advent International, he received something called “carried interests.”

Carried interests are fees paid to equity firms and hedge funds to manage portfolios. They are taxed as capital gains, at a rate of 20 percent, rather than the top income rate of 39.5 percent.

The carried interest rate — which costs taxpayers an estimated $1.3 billion a year — has long been the subject of dispute, with some critics arguing that this is one of the first tax loopholes lawmakers should close.

How much of Gomez’s income falls under the “carried interest” loophole is unclear from the disclosure form.

The issue raised here is not simply about taxes. Gomez has styled himself as an outsider, a fresh face, an unconventional nonpolitician. He is a man, he says, who is going to go to Washington and shake things up.

Yet his behavior smacks of everything he professes to dislike about Washington. Taking advantage of deeply buried tax loopholes and hiding behind a bunch of nonanswers are the actions of an insider, not an outsider. They are the acts of someone who believes that what he has done and how he has done it is none of your business.

It’s the kind of behavior that the most insular Washington power brokers — think Mitch McConnell — would surely applaud.

Gomez is an appealing candidate in many ways. His biography is interesting and unconventional. He was a Navy SEAL. He was a successful businessman — though, by the outlandish standards of the private equity business, only averagely successful. He is a fresh face.

But at some point Massachusetts voters will want more. Not only will they want to know more about what Gabriel Gomez believes on the issues, they will demand to know more about what he stands for. Anyone can claim to be a voice for change, a mantle so malleable virtually anyone can claim it.

But change begins at home.

If you really believe in transparency, you answer questions. If you really believe in fairness, you don’t take bogus six-figure tax breaks. If you think everyone should pay their share, you might think twice about pretending your investment fees were a capital gain.

Real reformers have trouble fitting in down in Washington. That might not be a problem for Gabriel Gomez. He seems to have already memorized the code.

Adrian Walker is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at walker@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Adrian_Walker.
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