Home News Local News Here’s why Dan Koh is thinking about another run for Congress

Here’s why Dan Koh is thinking about another run for Congress

Could the third District see a major rematch subsequent 12 months? Dan Koh says it’s as much as Rep. Lori Trahan, regardless that he’s the one mulling a major problem.

Koh, an Andover native and former chief of workers for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, has been pressuring the freshman congresswoman to launch financial institution statements to show she didn’t break marketing campaign finance legal guidelines throughout her slim 2018 win within the Democratic major race for the Massachusetts congressional seat.

If she doesn’t, Koh says he’s severely contemplating one other run — even when it rankles fellow Democrats — and has positioned himself as a extra forceful, progressive advocate within the period of President Donald Trump. But earlier than he jumps in, the 34-year-old is testing how the problem of Trahan’s marketing campaign funding performs with voters.

“The residents of the 3rd Congressional District deserve honesty and transparency from their elected officials, especially at a time when trust in government is threatened on a daily basis by the Trump administration,” Koh mentioned in an announcement final week to the Lowell Sun.

What precisely is Trahan’s marketing campaign finance problem?

Trahan, a Lowell native and Westford resident who served as former Rep. Marty Meehan’s chief of workers, narrowly beat Koh within the Merrimack Valley-area district’s 10-way major race for the Democratic nomination. After a recount, the ultimate vote totals confirmed that she had gained by 145 votes.

However, Koh and a few marketing campaign finance watchdogs are skeptical concerning the cash that helped Trahan throughout the end line.

Despite being vastly outspent by Koh, the 45-year-old congresswoman, who had trailed in polls by means of the summer season, “dramatically [increased] her TV advertising” within the two weeks main as much as the September major day, based on a Boston Globe report this previous March. According to the Globe, Trahan mentioned the spending was funded by a $371,000 mortgage she made to her marketing campaign.

According to Federal Election Commission guidelines, candidates can donate as a lot of their very own cash to their very own marketing campaign as they like. However, marketing campaign contributions from different people are topic to a $2,700 restrict. And some suspect that Trahan’s $371,000 mortgage was not fully her personal. Per the Globe‘s unique report:

…the monetary disclosures Trahan filed in the course of the summer season present she didn’t have wherever close to sufficient cash to cowl such huge loans — primarily, she listed a joint checking account together with her husband containing lower than $15,001.

After the November election, when the Globe started asking questions, she amended her monetary stories 4 instances, including a joint checking account and a $71,000 residence fairness mortgage that she mentioned she might draw on. Even then, nevertheless, the assets Trahan reported seem inadequate to make $371,000 in loans.

A marketing campaign finance skilled says Trahan’s explanations don’t add up. He believes that her marketing campaign donations had been improperly reported, and probably illegally given to her by her husband, David Trahan, a profitable residence builder.

Federal election legal guidelines permit candidates to donate or mortgage their marketing campaign any sum of money so long as it comes from a private account or a official financial institution mortgage. But if the cash comes from anybody else — even a partner — it’s topic to the present contribution restrict of $2,700, based on Federal Election Commission guidelines.

“The discrepancies between the supposed personal loans and her financial disclosures seem unlikely to have an innocent explanation,” mentioned Adav Noti, a Washington, D.C.-based marketing campaign finance skilled, who reviewed her filings on the Globe’s request.

Trahan’s marketing campaign says she has “fully” complied with all FEC necessities and instructed the Globe that the funds got here from three sources: two joint financial institution accounts together with her husband, a $71,000 residence fairness mortgage, and “additional income” from the consulting enterprise she based after Meehan retired in 2007. The marketing campaign later mentioned that she made a complete of $1.1 million from the consulting agency since 2015, together with $265,000 in 2018.

Here’s why Dan Koh is thinking about another run for Congress
Lori Trahan speaks throughout a press convention in July to announce enterprise restoration efforts in communities impacted by the Columbia Gas explosions. —Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

However, the truth that Trahan didn’t disclose these property till December and has declined to share financial institution information make it troublesome to substantiate. Additionally, the quantity she finally reported incomes in 2018 was solely barely lower than the roughly $300,000 she made on common within the three years earlier than her marketing campaign.

“When you’re running for Congress, it’s a full time job,” Maurice Cunningham, a political science professor at UMass Boston, instructed the Globe. “To earn $265,000 while you’re doing that — it raises questions. Who are you earning it from and what are you doing for it?”

In late March, the Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan marketing campaign finance watchdog, filed a criticism with the FEC asking the company to analyze if Trahn’s loans had been authorized. A conservative-leaning group echoed that decision in April. However, the FEC at the moment lacks a quorum to take motion on any such matter, because the Senate has not acted to fill two vacancies on its five-commissioner panel.

In the absence of any FEC ruling, the query now’s whether or not voters care sufficient to make a judgment.

What has Koh been as much as?

After the election, Koh largely saved his head down, opting to run for the Andover Board of Selectmen and specializing in an area tech startup.

However, this summer season, he broke his silence to strain Trahan to assist impeaching President Donald Trump — first in a Facebook publish after which in a Lowell Sun opinion piece. When Trahan did announce her assist for an impeachment inquiry in July following particular counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony to Congress, the Lowell Sun wrote that Koh had clearly “forced her hand,” regardless that she insisted that he had “zero impact on my decision.”

Every week later, Trahan wrote in a fundraising e mail that “one former primary opponent made it pretty clear last week that he is running against me,” lower than subtly alluding to Koh. Since then, she has warned of “potential opponents” and “challengers” in fundraising appeals.

“As you know, Lori likely will be facing a primary next year,” her marketing campaign wrote to supporters final Thursday.

Koh says he’s undecided about working, understanding {that a} major problem could possibly be unpopular and taint future political prospects. Through the summer season, Koh maintained that it was “too early to tell.” But he’s surveying the sphere to see how the marketing campaign finance problem, amongst different issues, performs with voters within the third District.

Here’s why Dan Koh is thinking about another run for Congress
Dan Koh speaks in the course of the opening of his 2018 marketing campaign headquarters in Haverhill. —Josh Reynolds / The Boston Globe

Last week, the Boston Herald reported that Koh had put out a ballot within the district asking voters about their relative opinions of him and Trahan. According to a supply near Koh, the ballot included questions concerning the marketing campaign finance criticism in opposition to Trahan, amongst different points.

The Lowell Sun — after acquiring screenshots of the ballot, which was distributed through textual content message — reported that one query was worded to ask what voters knew of the criticism about Trahan’s “acceptance of illegal campaign funds that may have influenced 2018 election results,” adopted by a suggestion that she “cheated the system.” The ballot then requested who they’d vote for if Koh ran.

In response, Koh confirmed that he carried out the ballot “to get a better sense of the public’s opinions” and instructed the Sun in an announcement that Trahan might “restore trust and put this issue behind her” if she launched information displaying the $371,000 mortgage was authorized.

“If Congresswoman Trahan releases the bank statements as well as the full client list from 2018 that is at the center of this ethics investigation, and it proves she did nothing wrong, I will not run,” he mentioned in an announcement.

Trahan’s marketing campaign says they’re “happy to take our case to the voters,” portray Koh as a sore loser.

“Dan Koh has been playing politics for months because he thinks he’s entitled to serve in Congress,” a spokesperson for the marketing campaign instructed Boston.com in an announcement. “It speaks volumes that Dan Koh’s first poll in the campaign is 100% negative and doesn’t test any positive message about himself; he doesn’t have anything positive to say about why he should be in Congress.”

How it’s enjoying

In the questions round Trahan’s mortgage, Koh’s supporters see echoes of the the marketing campaign finance scandal that doomed Rep. Frank Guinta, a New Hampshire Republican, in 2016. During his first marketing campaign, Guinta’s dad and mom gave him $381,000 from a household fund they legally managed. The congressman subsequently loaned many of the cash to his marketing campaign, which the FEC in the end dominated amounted to an unlawful donation, which far exceeded the bounds on particular person political contributions. After getting hammered by Democrats (in addition to some Republicans) on the problem, Guinta narrowly misplaced his re-election bid to Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

Koh’s supporters body his potential candidacy as a check of whether or not Democrats stroll the discuss when the same marketing campaign finance controversy isn’t inflected by partisanship.

“It’s more than a little disconcerting that the very same people who rightly railed against Guinta receiving money inappropriately are not only deadly silent in this case, but in fact are saying, ‘What’s the big deal?’” mentioned the particular person near Koh, who requested anonymity to talk freely on the matter.

According to the particular person, there are a “significant” variety of individuals urging Koh to run. However, not less than in public, his trial ballon has confronted headwinds.

Globe columnist Scot Lehigh penned an opinion piece final week urging Koh in opposition to making “a dumb run” and downplaying the FEC criticism in opposition to Trahan as “the equivalent of a campaign parking ticket.” Additionally, Lehigh argued that the implicit message of a possible problem would alienate girls and predicted a landslide re-election win for the congresswoman. Others have identified that Trahan might counter by highlighting the “substantial amount of out-of-district Boston developer money” Koh obtained throughout his 2018 marketing campaign. While he repeatedly raked in large quarterly fundraising sums, the contributions got here disproportionately from outdoors the district, particularly in comparison with Trahan.

“Dan Koh managed to lose last year, despite leading in the polls and outspending Lori Trahan by more than $2 million,” a spokesperson for the Trahan marketing campaign mentioned in an announcement.

Here’s why Dan Koh is thinking about another run for Congress
Lori Trahan giving her major victory speech final 12 months, as her 4-year-old daughter Caroline blocks her ears from the noise, on the UMASS Lowell Inn and Conference Center in Lowell. —Jim Davis / The Boston Globe

Koh’s marketing campaign wouldn’t solely give attention to litigating whether or not Trahan’s marketing campaign mortgage was authorized; he has additionally tried to outflank Trahan from the left — not solely on impeachment, but in addition on well being care. Koh was an outspoken supporter of transferring the nation to a single-payer “Medicare-for-All” well being care system. Trahan signed on as a sponsor of Medicare-for-All laws in March, however did voice considerations about potential unexpected prices of the system in the course of the marketing campaign.

Trahan’s marketing campaign says her file in Congress speaks for itself, working with the Democratic majority to dam Trump’s Republican agenda, backing the Green New Deal, and supporting girls’s reproductive rights.

“We would stack that record against political staffer Dan Koh’s any day of the week,” Mairead Lynn, a spokeswoman for EMILY’s List, a political group that helps pro-choice Democratic girls, instructed Boston.com in an announcement.

Lynn additionally signaled that Trahan’s supporters might punch again at Koh by tying him to scandals in Boston, such because the a number of Walsh administration officers discovered responsible on felony fees. She additionally resurfaced an assault — first levied by former state Sen. Barbara L’Italien in the course of the 2018 major — that Koh responded insufficiently to a Boston metropolis worker’s report of sexual harassment by a senior administration official.

The individuals of Massachusetts deserve a frontrunner who will rise up and combat for them, not somebody who refuses to take duty for his actions,” Lynn mentioned.

Trahan has added one other supporter to her ranks: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who endorsed the congresswoman for re-election in a video launched Thursday morning and urged voters to “pitch in however you can” to her marketing campaign.

“Let’s all get in this fight by Lori’s side,” Warren mentioned.

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