• Mass. Senate candidate pays 2005 appraisal fee


    BOSTON (AP) - Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez said he has paid an eight-year-old, $1,000 bill for an appraisal on his Cohasset home, even as he again called on Democratic challenger Edward Markey to release his tax returns.

    Gomez paid the fee Thursday, after The Boston Globe reported that the appraiser had filed a claim against Gomez in small claims court.

    "I'm surprised to hear this $1,000 bill after eight years," Gomez told reporters during a campaign stop in Quincy on Thursday. "Quite frankly, I don't even recall the bill."

    The appraiser said Gomez hired him in 2005 to help determine how much he could deduct from his federal tax return in exchange for agreeing not to make alterations on the facade of the historic home.

    Gomez reportedly declined to pay the fee after receiving a more generous evaluation from another appraiser. Democrats have criticized the $281,000 tax break, saying local bylaws already prevented Gomez from changing the facade of the house.

    Gomez has defended the tax deduction - and used the Quincy news conference to criticize his Democratic challenger, Markey, a longtime congressman, for failing to release any of his tax returns. Gomez has released six years of returns.

    "It is amazing that this person who has literally been being paid by the taxpayers for 40 years has not released one single ... year of his tax returns," Gomez said.

    Markey campaign officials said again Thursday that they plan to release some returns - but haven't said when they plan to make the returns public or how many years they will provide.

    Also Thursday, Gomez declined to say whether he supported or opposed the so-called "Blunt Amendment" that would have allowed employers to refuse coverage of services, such as birth control coverage, for "moral reasons."

    Gomez said that while he is Catholic and personally "pro-life" he would not push to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.

    He also offered more details on his views on access to abortion.

    "We shouldn't have partial birth abortion. And we shouldn't have taxpayer funds funding abortion. I believe we should have parental consent," he said Thursday. He also said he supports making the so-called morning-after contraceptive pill available to adults without a prescription, but believes minors shouldn't have access to the pills without the consent of their parents.

    Gomez planned to release his first television ad of the campaign on Friday.

    In the 30-second ad Gomez introduces himself in Spanish and talks about his goal growing up of serving his parent's adopted country by becoming a Navy SEAL. The ad is paid for by the Massachusetts Republican Party.

    The ad comes after Markey released a new ad Thursday criticizing Gomez for opposing the reinstatement of a federal assault weapons ban and a ban on high capacity magazines "like the ones used in the Newtown school shooting."

    Gomez campaign officials say the new ad shows Markey wants to avoid talking about topics that voters care about like jobs, the economy and national security

    Thursday's jousting came as outside groups began pouring money into the contest pitting Markey and Gomez.

    The Service Employees International Union's political action committee has reported spending more than $340,000 on voter canvassing efforts designed to encourage Markey supporters to get to the polls on election day.

    Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show the spending came in recent days - after Markey defeated fellow congressman Stephen Lynch in last month's Democratic primary.

    During the Democratic primary, outside groups spent nearly $1.8 million supporting Markey and opposing Lynch. That included the SEIU's Committee on Political Education, which spent nearly $320,000 to back Markey's primary bid.

    The SEIU focuses on organizing workers in the health care, building maintenance and public services sectors.

    The election to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of John Kerry is June 25.

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