MassGOP Treasurer Patrick Crowley said the firm that Chairman Jim Lyons hired to allegedly investigate the governor’s personal life was also used to conduct “opposition research” into two Republican state committee members.
Those two members, Lindsay Valanzola and Matthew Sisk, have been critical of Lyons’ leadership style, another committee member said.
“As part of my due diligence as treasurer of the party, I re-reviewed the campaign finance reports that have been filed since February 2022 to make sure the reports are accurate,” Crowley said in a Friday email to committee members that was shared with the Herald.
“As part of this review, I have identified another discrepancy that will require amending our filings.”
According to Crowley, the party’s April 2022 quarterly Federal Election Commission report lists a vendor named “STRIM” with no address, for “IT services.”
Crowley said he reached out to STIRM group, the private investigations firm Lyons hired to allegedly conduct opposition research into Democrat Maura Healey during the gubernatorial campaign, and was provided with an invoice for a “background check that was conducted on Lindsay Valanzola.”
“As this was the second discrepancy with this vendor, I asked for information regarding any additional work that was done for the MA GOP,” Crowley wrote. “As a partial response to this inquiry, I was provided the attached invoice for an investigation on another state committee member.”
According to the invoices, also provided to the Herald, Lyons was billed $800 for “investigation fees,” dated Sept. 1, 2021, for Valanzola and $1,000 for a background investigation into Sisk, dated May 13, 2021, which included retrieving his records from Norfolk Probate and Family Court.
Crowley told committee members on Thursday that the party was on the hook for a $52,467 payment for the Healey probe, and wrote Friday that party resources were also used to pay for the Valanzola investigation, citing campaign finance filings.
The Sisk investigation was paid for by a third party, Crowley said, referencing a check for $1,000 he provided to committee members, “and does not appear on any campaign finance filings of the party.”
This check was made out to STIRM group, from a party that lists its address as 2119 Main St. in Tewksbury, which, according to an internet search, is the same address as Lyons’ family business, Dandi-Lyons.
“Once I get guidance from the OCPF and/or FEC, I will let you know what actions I need to take regarding this expenditure,” Crowley wrote.
According to sources, Lyons was investigating whether Valanzola lives in Massachusetts, as part of his bid to remove her from the state committee, and was looking into Sisk’s divorce and the legitimacy of his first marriage.
Sisk’s first wife is foreign, but was legally in the United States with a H1-B visa, which allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, a source said.
Sisk declined comment, and Valanzola did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Michael Valanzola, another state committee member, told the Herald Lyons hired a private investigator to follow his sister, Lindsay, across the country when she was on business trips.
“It’s sad and weird and odd and pretty much consistent with his, you know, behaviors in general,” Michael Valanzola said. “So I can’t say I’m stunned — just disappointed.”
Lindsay Valanzola is listed on her LinkedIn account as a pre-sales operation manager who works in Nashville, and Lyons was trying to prove that she lived there as well, her brother said.
Michael Valanzola said Lindsay works “in between Newton and Nashville,” and is a resident and registered voter in “good standing” in Massachusetts.
Lindsay Valanzola is listed as the committee’s assistant secretary on the MassGOP website, but her seat is listed as vacant on a list of state committee members.
According to Michael Valanzola, Lyons has been attempting to remove his sister from the state committee for about two years, but has been unsuccessful in several avenues.
Lyons made attempts through an investigatory committee consisting of MassGOP committee members, the secretary of state’s office, and their hometown board of registrars in Wales, according to Michael Valanzola.
“There’s nothing removable and he doesn’t have the authority to do it,” Michael said. “So, now he’s just arbitrarily decided he’s going to declare a vacancy. This is really all because this is going to be a close election, and he’s attempting to remove any members that he believes won’t vote for him.”
Lyons did not respond to a request for comment.
Amy Carnevale, a frontrunner in the race for chair, said “these kinds of actions perpetuate a culture of dysfunction on the committee.”
“It is troubling that the chairman would investigate members of his own committee using a private investigative service, whether that was paid for with committee dollars or personal dollars,” Carnevale said.
The MassGOP chair election will be held on Jan. 31 in Marlboro.