The Massachusetts GOP says its been locked out of its online donor database — bringing to light potential cracks in party unity as officials fight to regain control of their data.
MassGOP has sent a demand letter to cloud-based software company Salesforce to restore access to data the state Republican Party says it’s been blocked from since July 15.
But the issue appears to run deeper than the software company — highlighting a rift between the state party led by Chairman Jim Lyons and Gov. Charlie Baker’s political team.
MassGOP has been working with Salesforce since at least 2015, according to records provided to the Herald.
But the demand letter — sent July 30 through attorney David Carr and obtained by the Herald — highlights correspondence from six individuals, several of whom have ties to Gov. Charlie Baker’s political campaign arm, pertaining to a check written by “The Baker Committee” to Salesforce, raising questions about who should have access to the account.
Lyons, the state Republican Party chairman since Jan. 17, said, “Just picture an organization that does fundraising and they’ve been in the business for years and all of a sudden the donor list they’ve used for years is taken by a third party. That’s what happened here.”
He added, “The people that were running it took it with them and now we’re left without any of the information.”
Jim Conroy, a Baker Committee adviser who is named in the letter, said, “The Baker Committee has enjoyed working closely with the party for years, sharing resources and information, and hopes to continue doing so.”
Salesforce invoices provided to the Herald list MassGOP as the subscriber since 2015. Federal Election Commission records show the Massachusetts Republican Party paid $12,273.79 to Salesforce.com Inc. on Nov. 15, 2018.
But email correspondence provided by MassGOP and referenced in the demand letter shows a check from “The Baker Committee” for the same amount to Salesforce dated Jan. 23. Office of Campaign and Political Finance records list the expenditure as Jan. 28.
The email, dated Jan. 23, says the invoice had previously been paid from the “wrong account” and asks for the “old account” to be refunded as soon as possible.
MassGOP’s demand letter describes “The Baker Committee” as “an entity with no relationship to the subscribing MassGOP.” Instead of contacting the state party over “highly unusual activity,” it says Salesforce “terminated access” to the database.
Lyons said Thursday Salesforce has yet to restore MassGOP’s access. The Baker Committee also does not have access to the database. Salesforce did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.
The letter claims MassGOP’s “fundraising opportunities have been impacted” since it was denied access to a list of more than 14,000 individuals and businesses on July 15.
It demands Salesforce “cease and desist all unauthorized access to MassGOP proprietary information” and restore the party’s access to the system. Failure to “make a reasonable settlement offer” within 30 days will result in a lawsuit, the letter says.
The Baker Committee said it has offered through Salesforce to work with the state party and come up with a solution, but that MassGOP declined. Lyons said, “They just took our biggest asset and didn’t tell us about it.”
Republican State Committeeman Tom Mountain chalked the issue up to “a misunderstanding” within the party, adding “we were obviously working hand-in-hand with the Baker campaign to get the governor re-elected.”