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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sleight of mouth

Michael Sullivan isn't a lobbyist. He did "counsel work for an industry."

The Republican US Senate candidate ought to hope the audience was minimal for the televised debate last night when he not only stepped out of the mainstream on gun control, but managed to engage in the kind of verbal gymnastics that typifies why people hate politicians.

The debate with Gabriel Gomez and Dan Winslow came the same day that a bipartisan agreement on background checks for commercial purchase was announced by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey.

Sullivan, the former head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms -- the federal agency that allegedly regulates guns -- says he doubts this measure and efforts to check a purchaser's mental health status won't work. That position put him at odds with his GOP rivals, including the former Navy Seal Gomez.
Both Gomez and Winslow said they would vote for the Toomey-Manchin measure. ­Under pressure from Winslow, Sullivan said repeatedly that the Toomey-Manchin effort “doesn’t address the problem,” but refused to clarify whether or not he would vote for it.
Challenged by Gomez that he was ducking the question, Sullivan insisted he was not before firing back at Winslow, who said Sullivan was “a lobbyist for the gun lobby."
“I don’t lobby for anything, anybody,” he said, terming his work at the Ashcroft Group as “counsel work for an industry.”
While the company carefully couches its language and shelters its client list, it's a stretch to call any Washington-based firm headed by a former Attorney General that engages in regulatory and legislative affairs as not involved in working with legislators and regulators to influence outcomes.

In other words, lobbying.

That bob and weave is only slightly more egregious from Winslow's effort to back away from his service to Mitt Romney as chief legal counsel, saying he had nothing to do with Romney Care.

And it stands in sharp contrast to Gomez manning up to his asking Deval Patrick to appoint him to the interim seat he is now seeking full-time.

Sullivan's words are sure to comeback to haunt him if, as polls suggest, he wins the GOP primary.

Let's hope he's a straighter shooter with a firearm.

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