Bankruptcy and politics collide in Massachusetts

The Associated Press reported that one of the candidates for Congress in Massachusetts filed for bankruptcy in 2002. According to an article by Lyle Moran, Hopedale businessman Thomas Wesley, a Republican candidate for the 2nd District seat in the western part of the state, discharged $140,000 through his bankruptcy filing. This included $8,000 of unpaid income taxes.

This old case could become political fodder because Wesley “has been stressing the importance of fiscal responsibility and limited government.” The candidate denies hiding the bankruptcy filing however, and said “he mentioned it last November during an appearance before a conservative-leaning group, sparking an outpouring of sympathy for him.”

Wesley and his wife, Rebecca, had been unable to pay back a $100,000 business loan made by Fleet National Bank to Great Circle Trading Co., a Connecticut aerospace firm founded and operated by Wesley in the early 1990s. It was dissolved in 1999. Wesley also owed Wells Fargo $42,846 for a business loan.

His aerospace business had trouble selling imported items, Wesley said, and was unable to collect payments from companies abroad that purchased Great Circle’s products.

Wesley’s own take on the case is that “the American Dream has risk and reward, and it also has consequences,” Wesley said. “I took the risk and suffered the consequences.”

A debate is sure to start over whether Wesley is financially irresponsible for declaring bankruptcy, given his conservative political views on fiscal spending. While his opponents might try to make this case, it is only fair to point out that Wesley might be seen to be fiscally sound by getting the bankruptcy behind him and moving on to rebuild his business. There are indeed two sides to each coin, and Wesley might rightly be praised for rebounding as much as he might be castigated for the initial business failure. Wesley said there was no hypocrisy in juxtaposing his campaign mantra with his personal history, adding, “This is why I am fiscally responsible person. … I learned a lot about carrying debt and inventory.”

The Republican primary that Wesley is running in is next Tuesday. He is running against Jay Fleitman, a Northampton doctor.


By Doug Beaton

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