NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

November 2, 2012

Torkildsen is behind super PAC targeting Tierney

Former congressman lost to Tierney in '96

Peter Torkildsen lost his 6th Congressional District seat to John Tierney in 1996.

Sixteen years later, Torkildsen is the organizer of a super PAC that has so far spent nearly $80,000 mailing out negative advertising about Tierney.

The super PAC is called Strong Economy for Massachusetts. Torkildsen’s role in organizing it is documented on the Massachusetts secretary of state’s corporations website. He is listed as the corporation’s president and director, and the corporate address is his home in North Chelmsford.

The corporation has sent out two mailings, at a cost of about $40,000 each. One ad links Tierney to “sports gambling,” “tax fraud” and “criminal enterprise,” claiming his story is beginning to “unravel” like the baseball whose cover is symbolically coming off.

The ad is a reference to Tierney’s troubles relating to his brothers-in-law, accused of running an illegal offshore betting operation, and his wife, who pleaded guilty to “willful blindness” in helping her brother file false tax returns.

Tierney has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but his Republican candidate Richard Tisei contends Tierney should have paid taxes on the money his wife accepted from her brother for managing a bank account for him. Tierney has described the money as gifts from a family member that did not need to be reported.

A second mailing targets Tierney’s “refusal to defend freedom” because he did not attend a House Government Oversight Hearing following the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.

Tierney’s campaign manger, Matt Robison, said Tierney had been chairman of the subcommittee when the Democrats were in the House majority and had held hearings into consulate security, but saw no reason to participate in what Robison called Republican Chairman Darrell Issa’s manipulation of the Libya tragedy for political motives.

Despite losing his seat to Tierney 16 years ago, Torkildsen said revenge was not part of his motive for organizing the super PAC.

Torkildsen, a former chairman of the Republican State Committee, said he has a long-standing friendship with Tisei, who served 26 years in the Legislature and was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010.

Torkildsen’s super PAC has spent a relatively modest $79,741 so far, but has about twice that in hand for the closing days of the race, according to the nonpartisan watchdog group the Sunlight Foundation.

Torkildsen said he has another ad ready.

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