Barbara L’Italien (D) to run against tax cheat Jim Lyons (TeaParty) in the 18th Essex

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The rabidly right wing Eagle Tribune reports:

“ANDOVER — Former state Rep. Barbara L’Italien appears ready to give up a $100,000-a-year state job in an attempt to reclaim the Massachusetts House seat she lost to Republican Jim Lyons in 2010.

L’Italien has taken out nomination papers to challenge Lyons for the reconfigured 18th Essex House District, according to the secretary of state’s office. She had served four terms as state representative for the 18th Essex House District before being defeated by 847 votes.”

Lyons is a grandstanding anti-choice, anti-”illegals,” anti-tax, ice cream shop owner who cheated on his taxes for years. He staged a sit-in in the House chambers last November demanding the Patrick administration produce hidden secret records about health care provided by the state to “illegals” – information evidently he could’ve just looked up himself,

Lyon’s is also the fellow called out by the Democratic Party Chair for “playing petty political games.”

“The 18th Essex House District includes parts of Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Haverhill, Methuen, and North Andover.

Under redrawn voter maps, the district loses Georgetown, Haverhill and Methuen but will pickup a portion of Tewksbury come January.”

The tax cheating story:

The GOP candidate he defeated in the primary – before the tax cheating story broke – was suspected of an anonymous letter writing campaign suggesting voters write in his name rather than Lyons’.


26 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. She was one of the best.

    It would be great if she made a comeback.

  2. Why are so many GOP candidates tax cheats?

    Yet another GOP candidate who claims to know about running small businesses turns out to be a tax cheat and fraud.

    From the Eagle Tribune Piece (emphasis mine):

    ANDOVER — James Lyons Jr. touts his 35 years of small business experience as he campaigns for state representative.

    But the Andover Republican’s business credentials are being questioned by opponents who cite a record of unpaid taxes and legal troubles connected to his family’s business.

    Between 1995 and 2003, at least 14 federal, state and local tax liens amounting to more than $180,000 had been issued against Lyons and the business, according to records at the Northern Essex County Registry of Deeds.

    Lyons, 57, said the back taxes have been paid and the liens have been lifted. The Registry of Deeds confirmed the liens have all been cleared. The last lien was cleared in February 2005.


    In addition to the liens, the letter pointed to a 2002 Rockingham Superior Court case in September 2002, in which the plaintiff, Tiki Trust, claimed Lyons’ business breached a commercial lease agreement for a property in Seabrook, N.H., by vacating the property and not paying the rent.

    The realty trust also alleged that Lyons promoted “injustice or fraud upon the plaintiff (because) the corporation was formed and carried on its business without sufficient assets,” according to a court document.

    A judge ordered Lyons to pay $42,960 in back rent and real estate taxes and criticized the way Lyons ran the business.

    “These facts demonstrate that defendant (Lyons) undercapitalized his corporation, he knew of the corporation’s financial deficiencies but continued to allow the business to incur debt and other legal obligations,” the judge wrote.

    When the judgment remained unpaid in September 2006, a judge increased it to $63,061 to cover interest and added legal costs. Lyons said he has paid the full amount and the case has been settled.

    Lyons also encountered more tax troubles last year. While no lien was filed, the town of Tewksbury issued an “instrument of taking” last November for $20,863 in taxes that were due in May 2009. The taxes were paid on Feb. 2 of this year, according to the Tewksbury tax collector’s office.

    Lyons, whose campaign Web page includes the slogan “Declare your independence from higher taxes,” said his experience has taught him how excessive taxation and regulation hurt small businesses.

    So this “small business owner” attempted to stiff the government, stiff his landlord, and thumb his nose at the Court.

    Sounds like just another typical Massachusetts GOP legislator to me.

  3. Doesn't really matter because she's not going to win

    In order to create a minority majority district for Lawrence, the Redisticting effort had to make all the surrounding districts more Republican. This one is way more Republican that it was when she was in last in office.

    • Clearing the way for GOP frauds and tax cheats

      Another shining hour for the Massachusetts GOP.

      I don’t doubt that Mr. Lyons is likely to win. If he does, he will join Rep. Webster in the GOP pantheon of “heroes”. I can’t wait for the Rep. Lyons and Rep. Webster to start bleating about “integrity”, “personal responsibility”, and of course “cleaning up corruption in Massachusetts government”.


      • Delinquent yes...

        but the article does not support the “tax cheat” moniker that you are trying to label him with.

        • The federal lien makes him a "tax cheat"

          The article makes it clear that he had a federal tax lien applied against him. That’s hard to do without qualifying as a “tax cheat”. I therefore looked up the lien in the public registry of deeds (see below). He failed to pay withholding taxes for five consecutive quarters from 31-Mar-1996 through 31-Mar-1997 — for a total of $105,419.87.

          Now just so we’re all clear about what he DID: these are amounts that he withheld from employees paychecks (the employer tax id is 04-3161431) and used for his own purposes rather than paying to the government. I invite you to choose a different word from “tax cheat”, but “delinquent” doesn’t begin to cover it.

          The rest of the serious issues identified in the cited piece are in the same public database. There are not just one, but TWO attachments — one for $450,000 in 1991, and another for $150,000 in 1992. He was, in fact, a tax delinquent — he failed to pay Massachusetts income tax to the tune of $2,530.21 and had a Massachusetts Tax Lien issued against him.

          Here’s how I got the above information, just so nobody thinks I’ve done something improper. I went to the Northern Middlesex Registry of Deeds online website — these are PUBLIC records that anyone is entitled to view. I searched for “Lyons/James J.” (Last Name/First Name), sorted by “Rec. Date”, and opened the “Federal Tax Lien”. That is registered with a Book/Page of 09209/36 — again, a public record. Here is the image of the lien:

          • If so

            If “The federal lien makes him a “tax cheat” …then so must our be Governor. Recall that around the same time Governor Patrick also had a federal tax lien placed against his property.
            The spin around here sometimes just make me dizzy.

            • Show us ... please

              Not just a federal tax lien.

              A federal tax lien for failing to pay withholding taxes.

              I will happily and eagerly label Deval Patrick a “tax cheat” if you can show that he did the same.

              • Not what you posted.

                So now that Governor Patrick fits your quote, the criteria changes. Exactly what I meant about spin.

                • Spin?

                  The criteria hasn’t changed a bit.

                  A person, like Rep. Webster or Rep. Lyons, who withholds taxes and uses them for their own purposes is a “tax cheat”.

                  I freely acknowledge that Governor Patrick was delinquent in his taxes in 1996, when he and his wife “failed to make payments on $8,778 in back taxes they owed to the IRS”.

                  In my view, “borrowing” over one hundred thousand dollars of money a person has taken from their employees is categorically different from being slow to pay well under ten thousand dollars.

                  Call that “spin” if you like. I stand by my characterization of Rep. Lyons and Rep. Webster as “tax cheats”.

                  • Spin

                    You wrote “The article makes it clear that he had a federal tax lien applied against him. That’s hard to do without qualifying as a “tax cheat”.
                    I pointed out that the Governor also had a federal tax lien applied to his property.
                    You then wrote “Not just a federal tax lien. A federal tax lien for failing to pay withholding taxes.”
                    That is a changed criteria. I stand by my calling it “spin”.

                    • Good effort

                      I applaud the gymnastics, and the rhetorical skill in attempting to shift the focus what Rep. Lyons did to the specifics of how I chose to word a comment.

                      Two GOP representatives essentially stole money from their employees — in the case of Mr. Lyons, over one hundred thousand dollars.

                      Your attempt to equate this with the late payment of a personal income tax obligation exemplifies what I have come to expect from the Massachusetts GOP.

                    • Hyperbole

                      “If an employer in the US issues a net check to an employee, the employer is responsible for paying the taxes they have withheld from the gross paycheck. If the employer does not do so, there is no obligation by the employee to pay them (the employee already has done so) and the employee can still claim the federal and state income tax withheld even though the govt has not actually received the taxes. “

                      The hyperbole around here these days is overwhelming. He did not “steal money from his employees”. Often IRS liabilities are used as a funding source of last resort in order to keep a business operating and thus to keep paying employees. I don’t know if that’s what happened here, but nor do you know it didn’t.
                      “Tax Cheat” and “stole from his employees” is hyperbole and spin.
                      Now go ahead and yawn.

                    • Who's spinning now?

                      Let’s keep talking about it. I think the more folks know about the behavior of these GOP candidates, the more insight we will have about the nature of the small business “expertise” these candidates offer the voters.

                      The facts remain the facts. Call it “hyperbole” if you like, the fact remains that both Republican representatives Lyons and Webster did the same. Each took money out of the pockets of their employees and used it for their own purposes.

                      In the case of Rep. Lyons, we’re talking about over one hundred thousand dollars. As I wrote upthread, an honest employer with integrity would have instead been upfront with his employees.

                      If Mr. Lyons didn’t steal from his employees, then he “borrowed” from the government. I suppose that, for you, this falls into the category of “it’s ok if you’re Republican”.

                      I call this behavior a “tax cheat”, and I call the dishonest employer who does it a “tax cheat”. I get that you don’t — instead, you appear to defend it. That is, apparently, one of the differences between us.

                    • Getting closer

                      Tom, first let me reiterate, I am not condoning failure to pay taxes which are owed. I would agree with your characterization that he “borrowed from the government”, but then so did Governor Patrick. From a moral standpoint I agree that what Lyon’s did was worse, I don’t excuse anyone for anything because of their party affiliation, but it sound’s like you do. You seem to be excusing Governor Patrick.
                      It’s the spin and hyperbole to which I was replying, I was not making excuses for not paying taxes. I pay mine, so should everyone; we can agree on that.

                    • Qualitative difference

                      When someone is delinquent in paying income taxes, there is no third party in the picture. Governor Patrick did not coerce people he had power over to give him money “for taxes”, and then use that money for his own purposes. Governor Patrick’s shortfall was less than $10,000. Rep. Lyons, on the other hand, took money out of the paychecks of his employees to the tune of one hundred thousand dollars.

                      I do not “excuse” Governor Patrick. I instead reject your attempt to draw a false equivalence between his behavior and that of Mr. Lyons and Mr. Webster. There are significant, qualitative and quantitative differences between both the behavior (Governor Patrick did not exploit his power over any employees, Mr. Lyons did) and the amount of money involved (Mr. Lyons misused ten times as much money).

                      Like you, I pay my taxes. When an honest executive faces a cash crunch, he or she tells his or her employees about the situation and gives the employees a real opportunity to determine the extent to which they want to participate in attempting to rescue the business. That is not what Mr. Lyons and Mr. Webster did.

                      I find it particularly offensive that Rep. Lyons then touts his “small business expertise” as a reason why voters should choose him. In my view, that sort of “expertise” has no place in governance. Surely Massachusetts has enough public officials gaming the system already (sadly, Democrats as well as Republicans).

                      I’m glad that we agree that each of us has a legal and moral obligation to pay taxes we owe. I wish that the public officials that represent the Massachusetts GOP demonstrated similar integrity and moral courage in handling their tax obligations — and in their treatment of their employees.

                    • Quantatative yes, qualatative no.

                      More hyperbole.
                      “(Governor Patrick did not exploit his power over any employees, Mr. Lyons did)”
                      How did he exploit them? By keep them employed? His employees were UNAFFECTED by his not paying his tax obligations (I don’t want to sound like I am excusing his failure to pay, I am not). Both the Governor and Mr. Lyons “borrowed from the government”, one to a large extent, the other much smaller. They’re both tax cheats or their not.
                      But enough of this, I have withholding taxes to remit before I leave for the day.

                    • grammar fix

                      “or THEY’RE not”.
                      “or their not”.

          • Couple things

            1. In my experience, both the IRS and the MDOR abuse the lien procedures, at least with respect to the sums claimed. Often they are, at best, crude estimates, based on an assumption that the businesses income always improves from its best performance ever. They should be consumed with salt, particularly since they are often filed when a taxpayer is legitimately contesting what the government demands.

            2. I agree that there is a difference between income taxes owed, and withholding taxes owed, but I don’t see anything in this document to distinguish between the two.

            3. Spending payroll taxes is a mistake that is frequently made by small businesses, especially retail businesses. You have a crummy week, and you have to make payroll AND buy supplies in order to be open next week. Make the decision: close and lay people off, and meet your by-the-book obligations to the taxman, or stay open and try to make it up. If every business ALWAYS decided for the latter, then there would be no small business. The trick is knowing when to call it quits, and that is something that proves in practice to be very difficult for someone who believes in their business to do. And a lot of them wind up ground to pieces by the taxman because of their chronic optimism, without necessarily ever having had any ill intent.

            So while I would agree there is a difference, I would not say that the difference is particularly significant. I would say that “tax cheat” under the circumstances above described is a gross overstatement.

            • Did you look at the lien?

              The lien show five consecutive quarters with the following unpaid withholding taxes:

              03/31/1996: 25,717.72
              06/31/1996: 13,105.31
              09/31/1996: 35,683.65
              12/31/1996: 28,615.29
              03/31/1996:   2,357.90

              Sorry, cmd, but that isn’t “a crummy week”, that’s well over a YEAR. There’s nothing “by the book” about that, it’s just tax evasion. I love your characterization of such flagrant abuse “optimism”.

              And to lodger — Rep. Lyons exploited his employees by making the decision *FOR THEM*. It doesn’t sound like you’ve known many employees who show up for work to find the doors chained and those bright stickers pasted up.

              I’ll grant CMD that many small businesses pay their 941′s a week or two late from time to time. That is NOT what the record of Rep. Lyons shows.

              • OK

                I did not see the 941. My point 3 still stands. And a year isn’t that long, nor uncommon for any business that does not qualify as “Big Business.”

                Characterizing this as “exploiting” employees is most charitably described as preposterous nonsense. The employees neither know, nor care. They simply know that they had a job and got a paycheck.

                • You are more charitable

                  I’d like to remind you that Rep. Lyons cites his “business experience” as an important reason why voters should support him. In my view, someone who is so “optimistic” that they run up $100K+ balance of unpaid withholding taxes does not show the temperament I expect in a Representative.

                  I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree about whether or not this behavior exploits employees. The employees certainly know and care when they arrive for work to find the business seized because of unpaid withholding taxes. They know and care when an employer spends the business so deep into insolvency that they lose their health insurance. It matters when vacation pay they’ve been counting on dries up. An employer who cheats by not paying his withholding taxes for more than a year while singing his workers happy tunes about the business does those workers no favors.

  4. I can tell you what all this means in the district

    as I live nearby.

    These “Lyons has a shady business past” stories have been around for a while. What most people outside the area don’t know is that most of them were pushed out ot the inernet by his next door neighbor, with whom he had a property dispute. The neighbors were arrested and sentenced to actual jail time their harrasment of Rep Lyons was so bad.

    It’s unclear how many of us would standup to the bright lights with full documentation of our pasts (including divorces) posted on the internet. Most people in the district just shrug it off as difficulties any of us would face (true or not, that’s what they think).

    In his opponent they saw someone that was too liberal for the district, which was relatively moderate (and then got more conservative with redistricting(. She didn’t get any bonus points for immediately getting a state job almost immediately after losing office.

    • I don't have these kinds of problems in my past

      The stories have been around for awhile because they are apparently true. I don’t know or care about the motivation for publicizing the information — if it’s true, it’s true.

      I suggest that touting “small business expertise” as a qualification for office with this kind of background takes a kind of hutzpah compels a strong reaction when the truth comes out. Glass houses and all that.

      Since when does “moderate” mean “tolerant of corruption and dishonesty”?

  5. " I don't have these kinds of problems in the past"

    By the way that’s exactly what many people I know say about almost every social problem that liberal governments try to solve. “Why don’t they just get a job, pay their mortgage, give their kids a bag lunch etc..”

    I am only suggesting that people don’t care.

    Did they care that Gov. Patrick was on the board of a predatory mortgage lending company, the board that ran the company, and for which he received a very large paycheck? When did “liberal” or “blue state” mean “tolerant of leaders of government who ripped off poor people?”

    You note that I never said they weren’t true, only that people (voters) tend to put things they can’t understand (what does “lien” mean anyway? we’re really talking about late payment of a tax bill, right? who hasn’t been late paying something?) into a less important category.

    I realize that everytime I say white you say black.

    How about this? When I was dating my wife she lived in Somerville. Other than the times my car got random damage (like getting keyed)when I needed to park on the street, or when people offered to sell us drugs when we were sitting out on the front stoop, it was a pretty nice place. Oh and the fire station on Broadway was loud, but I got used to that afer a while. Can we agree on Somerville?

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