Campaign accounts for the struggling Massachusetts Republican Party had a net value of just over $35,000 as of the end of December, far less than it reported to state campaign finance officials, according to a balance sheet circulated Tuesday by Party Treasurer Pat Crowley and obtained by the Globe.
In an e-mail to fellow Republican State Committee members, Crowley documented $117,000 in debts the party owed last month to five vendors for campaign-related expenses — more than was previously known and far more than had been reported to campaign finance officials. According to the balance sheet circulated by Crowley, which shows the party’s financial status as of the end of 2022, the GOP owed most of its roughly $153,000 to vendors who performed campaign services including printing and opposition research. Those assets minus those liabilities, Crowley’s math showed, would leave the party with roughly $35,000.
Those totals, which include the party’s state and federal accounts, leave the beleaguered state GOP hardly any cash to cover routine expenses such as staff salaries and benefits.
The Globe reported earlier this month that the party owed roughly $86,000 to two campaign vendors, most of that to the Stirm Group, a research firm that had been hired to dig up dirt on Democratic Governor Maura Healey during last fall’s campaign. But the latest documents circulated by Crowley show additional debts of nearly $31,000. That money was owed to printers who produced mail advertising for Republican candidates in last fall’s elections.
At least some of those bills have been paid in 2023. The party paid roughly $10,000 each to three vendors — Boston Graphics, Curry Printing, and Get Set Marketing — on Jan. 16, less than a week after the Globe first reported that the party owed tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.
Party Chairman Jim Lyons and a spokesman for the GOP did not return requests for comment.
The small and shrinking campaign account is just the latest challenge for the state’s minority political party, which has been in disarray for months. The party has lost tens of thousands of registered Republican voters, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and more than a dozen seats in the Legislature in the four years it has been led by Lyons.
Documents and correspondence obtained by the Globe also show that Lyons may have broken campaign finance law by coordinating with a super PAC in soliciting opposition research on Healey. E-mails obtained by the Globe show Lyons communicating with Antoine Nader, chairman of the Mass Freedom Independent Expenditure PAC, in apparent violation of a state law that prevents outside PACs from coordinating with candidates or state parties. Crowley told fellow Republicans he intended to alert campaign finance regulators in the state of the alleged violation.
The party has been split for years between moderates supportive of the former Republican governor, Charlie Baker, and conservatives who back Lyons. Amid internal chaos, the GOP’s governing body has not had a formal meeting in more than a year, as it could not bring together enough members to constitute a quorum. Lyons has sued fellow Republicans, including Crowley, and deposed others in lawsuits. And he spent $1,800 on opposition research on two fellow Republicans, the Globe reported last week.
Much of the bad news for Lyons has trickled out into public view ahead of the Jan. 31 leadership election, when he will seek reelection as chair.
Critics say the party desperately needs new leadership if it is to succeed in elections and present a genuine counterweight to the state’s dominant Democrats. But Lyons’s backers say his hard-line stance on party principles makes him the right leader.
It’s not clear whether the party might owe more debts to other vendors. Crowley told Republicans Tuesday he was reaching out to other vendors to see if there were any additional unpaid bills.