Though there are an array of competitive and important state legislative races across the state this cycle which deserve attention, I wanted to show some love to a race that is near to my own heart because it is playing out largely in a community, Andover and the Merrimack Valley, to which I have a strong personal connection.
The race for State Representative in Andover (and the surrounding communities of the Merrimack Valley) in the 18th Essex District pits tea-party flavored one-term Republican incumbent Jim Lyons against the former Democratic Rep he unseated during the red tide that swept the Merrimack Valley two years ago, Barbara L’Italien.
It is fairly well known,–evidenced, in part, by Blue Mass Group (http://bluemassgroup.com/2012/04/barbara-litalien-d-to-run-against-jim-lyons-teaparty-in-the-18th-essex/)– that Jim Lyons has a long history of tax problems, with “at least 14 federal, state and local tax liens [have been]… issued against [him] and [his] business.”*
In addition to avoiding tax payments totaling roughly $180,000, according to the Eagle Tribune, Rep Lyons was held in contempt of court for purposefully evading questions regarding his tax delinquency during legal proceedings.
Lyons’ past illegal and unethical conduct should be subject to public scrutiny. In the view of this blogger, it is valuable to question the judgement of elected officials who have deliberately attempted to mislead the justice system. For example, transcripts from a major lawsuit **, show Lyons’ evasive tactics in an attempt to impede the judicial process. To be clear, Dandi-Lyons is the name of the flower and ice-cream business that Rep. Lyons has owned and operated in Reading for over 25 years:
“Q [Mark F. Sullivan Attorney for Tiki Trust]: What’s your relationship with Dandi-Lyons?
A [James J. Lyons]: Dandi-Lyons. When you say “Dandi-Lyons,” I don’t know what you mean by that, “Dandi-Lyons.”
Q: Do you know what I mean by “relationship”?
A: As it relates to–no, am I related to my wife?
Q: No, do you know what I mean?
A: By the word “relationship.”
A: I suppose I could look it up in the dictionary.
Q: Do you know what I mean or not?
A: I don’t know what you mean by “relationship,” no.”
“Jim has worked in the family-owned retail flower and ice cream business for over three decades… This real-life business experience motivates Jim’s fight for reform on Beacon Hill..” (sic) says his own campaign’s website. Of course, not having a “relationship” with his own tax-evading business has not stopped Jim Lyons from discussing how owning said business will impact his policymaking on Beacon Hill.
Despite the overwhelming evidence and public outcry, many mainstream press outlets, even the Eagle Tribune (who normally flocks to this kind of controversy) have barely issued a peep on the matter. Given that the Eighteenth Essex District has redrawn to include several new communities of voters, this makes for both a stunning and frightening scenario, particularly for those who might not have had a chance to read up on Lyons circus act.
The lack of noise thus far leads this blogger to believe that something big on taxes must be waiting in the wings- ready to drop on Lyons at any moment.
In the meantime, Lyons appears to be happy ignoring the topic, writing about his desire on his campaign website to “Stop the continuing abuse of taxpayer dollars by the out-of-control political bureaucrats on Beacon Hill.” Ironic considering his extensive history of not being one of those taxpayers.
** Rockingham Superior Court of New Hampshire 94-c-940 Lorraine Grady V. Jim Lyons d/b/a Dandi-Lyons Alexandra Mayer-Hohdhal