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GOP's Mihos sued by former campaign manager

By Steve LeBlanc
Associated Press Writer / March 17, 2010

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BOSTON—Republican gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos is being sued by his former campaign manager, who says he is owed tens of thousands of dollars for unpaid services.

Joe Manzoli said Mihos owes him $44,500 for work he did for the convenience store magnate's bid to win the GOP nomination for governor.

Manzoli's lawyer said she filed the civil lawsuit Wednesday in Worcester District Court.

"He had a contract for consulting services for Christy Mihos and the campaign committee. He was being paid and then the payments stopped," said Margaret Melican, who is representing Manzoli.

The $44,500 is the balance Manzoli is owed, she said.

Mihos said he was unaware of the lawsuit. He said he paid Manzoli more then $60,000 and tried to settle amicably with him last week.

"We offered him what we said we were going to pay him and we have not heard back from him directly," Mihos said in a telephone interview. "I have no idea what he is alleging."

Although Mihos has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money into his run for governor, his campaign has been plagued with staff upheavals and financial problems. He bounced a $20,000 check to his own campaign account, and in January a judge placed liens on three businesses he owns after a gasoline supplier claimed he was owed more than $600,000.

His latest filing with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance showed a campaign balance of just over $4,000.

Part of Mihos' money went to hire Dick Morris to develop political strategy for the campaign. Morris once served as political adviser to Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

Mihos said he is being targeted because he is a political outsider. He's never held statewide elected office, but served as vice chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority from 1999 to 2004. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2006.

He's running against fellow Republican Charles Baker who was human services secretary and the administration's chief financial officer under former GOP governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci.

"When you run for political office people say and do anything to get money out of you," Mihos said. "When you're an outsider and you have a record like mine for taking on the system, you get knuckled under."

Manzoli said he just wants to get paid.

"Everything I talk about is facts and figures," he said. "Christy can say whatever he wants. I go by the facts."

Gov. Deval Patrick, the state's Democratic governor, is seeking re-election in the November election.

Besides Baker and Mihos, independent state Treasurer Timothy Cahill, Democratic community activist Grace Ross and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein are also running for governor.