Scott Lively, the controversial pastor mounting a long-shot conservative challenge to Governor Charlie Baker, indicated Tuesday that it’s “plausible” the state’s elected officials are conspiring to use government-funded programs to control the citizenry, with the intent of funneling federal money to the state’s coffers and keeping hold of their respective offices.
Lively, speaking during a wide-ranging interview on WBUR, framed the “conspiracy theory” as evidence of what he called a corrupt culture on Beacon Hill — even as he declined to provide a single example of corruption in State House law- and policy-making.
The nearly hourlong discussion was part of a series of candidate forums hosted by WBUR, the Globe, and the McCormack Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts Boston, which included an interview with Baker in June.
In pitching his vision for the corner office, Lively described himself as a supporter of smaller government at the state level and a proponent of eliminating some property taxes.
He also railed against the state’s approach to battling opioid addiction, saying funds geared toward methadone programs as a form of treatment are the product of “cynical politicians who have controlled this system” and are “using addicts like cash cows.”
“Every person that they can keep enslaved to methadone is an income stream,” he said.
After several minutes of discussion, cohost Meghna Chakrabarti pressed Lively, asking if she was wrong in saying that he sees a conspiracy between “Democrats and centrist Republicans in attempting to, either through chemicals or government programs, essentially enslave the citizens of Massachusetts so that they, the politicians, can get more money from the federal government?”
Lively responded: “Always follow the money,” before pointing to the work of a now-convicted doctor on how to address addiction.
“Following the money trail, sort of putting that conspiracy theory in place, and looking at it and saying, ‘Well that’s, certainly plausible right?’ ” he added. “It’s plausible that that’s what’s going on here, that they care more about the money than they do about the people.”
At another point, as Lively promoted putting a greater emphasis on town meetings in community decision-making, he slammed the current structure of representative government.
“There are policies and procedures that are taking place on Beacon Hill that are just corrupt,” he said.
“Like what?” asked cohost and Globe reporter Joshua Miller.
“Like, like, like, like getting, uh, well . . . ” Lively started. “Let me come back at some point, and I’ll outline those things for you. I’m not prepared to sort of go into — when I make those allegations specifically, I want to be able to document those.
“But I’m just saying that as a general rule,” he said, “Beacon Hill represents an elitist approach to making policy, [and is] very different from what the founders envisioned.”
In discussing the opioid epidemic, Lively also touted the work of Dr. Punyamurtula Kishore, a Brookline doctor who ran a network of 29 medical offices and labs throughout the state and built what he called a “tremendous addiction recovery system” that the state should adopt.
But it didn’t last. In 2015, Kishore pleaded guilty, was sentenced to jail, and was ordered to pay $9.3 million in restitution for running what the attorney general’s office called a complex scheme of kickbacks that undermined “the integrity of our health care system.”
Lively wasn’t convinced.
“He was taken down by Martha Coakley,” Lively said, referring to the then-attorney general who initially brought charges against Kishore. “I know this case, and I stand with Dr. Kishore. . . . This was the worst example of abuse of power I’ve seen in my life.”
Lively received support from 28 percent of GOP delegates at the state Republican Party’s endorsement convention earlier this year, clearing the threshold he needed to be on the Sept. 4 primary ballot.