ICYMI: Chip Harrington slams Sen. Eric Lesser on small business record

BOSTON -- GOP Senate candidate Chip Harrington yesterday called out Sen. Eric Lesser for his hypocrisy on supporting small businesses. While Lesser talks a big game about his support for small business, his record doesn't match his rhetoric: voting against a bill designed to reduce costs for them.

Chip Harrington slams Sen. Eric Lesser on small business record

By Dan Glaun

Ludlow convenience store owner James "Chip" Harrington, who is challenging Eric Lesser for the First Hampden and Hampshire state Senate seat, accused Lesser of hypocrisy Tuesday afternoon for his position on supporting small businesses.

"Mr. Lesser wants to have his cake and eat it too," Harrington wrote in a post on his campaign website. "He wants to show up for photo opps and write pieces about caring for small businesses and present one thing through his press machine out here in Western Massachusetts but do another thing on Beacon Hill and hope we do not find out."

Harrington was responding to an opinion piece Lesser wrote that was published Monday on MassLive. In that piece, Lesser praised small businesses like the cosmetics boutique Cheeky City that recently opened in downtown Springfield, and said the state should work to support such enterprises, not obstruct them.
But Harrington alleged that Lesser's vote last year against an amendment that would have lowered the state's LLC licensing fee renders his support hollow.

"I am astonished because when he was presented with a straight forward way to support us small business owners across the Commonwealth; Mr. Lesser gave us the stiff arm," Harrington wrote. "He voted against a simple measure to reduce the LLC license filing fee from $500 to $250; yet he has the gall to speak about 'outdated government roadblocks.' "

Lesser's campaign declined to comment for this story.

The amendment was introduced by Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) during the Senate's debates over the 2016 budget. He argued that many states have fees ranging from $50 to $200 to start an LLC, and that reducing Massachusetts' fee would spark economic growth.

"When it comes to limited liability companies, a business we are seeking to encourage in Massachusetts, we have among the highest filing fees in the country," Tarr said, according to a State House News summary of the debate
Lesser did not speak during the debate over the measure but voted against it, according to the State House News summary of the hearing.

Harrington, the owner of Our Town Variety store and a part time police officer in Ludlow, announced his Republican candidacy in February for the state's First Hampden and Hampshire Senate District, which includes his hometown of Ludlow, Hampden, Granby, Longmeadow and East Longmeadow, as well as parts of Springfield and Belchertown.

Harrington switched from the Democratic to Republican party before announcing his candidacy, saying his fiscally conservative and pro-gun views made him unwelcome among the Democratic establishment. In 2014 Harrington lost to Lesser in the Democratic state Senate primary.

Lesser went on to beat Republican Debra Bronski, winning his home town's senate seat after serving as a White House aide and working for the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

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