The Massachusetts Republican Party recently settled a case that had been ongoing for 2 ½ years, involving allegations that Senator Ryan Fattman had used his campaign funds to financially support his wife’s campaign for register of probate in Worcester County. The state party agreed to pay $15,000 in three installments to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance to resolve the case, without admitting any wrongdoing.
The case had accused the state party of serving as an illegal conduit, channeling $137,000 from Fattman’s campaign to his wife’s campaign. While the settlement puts an end to the case involving the party, the cases involving Ryan and Stephanie Fattman still remain outstanding.
Amy Carnevale, the chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, expressed her desire to put the lawsuits that originated during the previous chairmanship behind the party. She stated that the settlement allows the party to focus on the future.
The settlement agreement was signed by Carnevale and William Campbell from the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, and was negotiated by the state attorney general’s office. It remains unclear whether the Fattmans will also settle, as Ryan Fattman has proclaimed his innocence and went to court to block the Campaign and Political Finance Office from referring the matter to the attorney general’s office. He has also formed a legal defense fund that has raised nearly $220,000.
Supporters of the Fattmans believe that the case is a witch hunt and argue that Democrats have engaged in similar behavior. However, campaign finance documents show that Sen. Fattman’s campaign made donations to the Massachusetts Republican Party and the Sutton Republican Town Committee, which then made donations, of similar size, to Stephanie Fattman’s campaign. While Sen. Fattman’s donations were legal, they could be viewed as illegal if they were made with the understanding that they would be passed along to his wife’s campaign, in order to bypass the $100 limit on campaign-to-campaign donations.
The settlement allows the Massachusetts Republican Party to move forward and focus on its future. It is now up to the Fattmans to decide whether they will settle or continue to fight the allegations against them.