Geoff Diehl is a State Representative from Whitman whose hard work on behalf of Massachusetts taxpayers has saved residents across the state from having to pay billions of dollars in new taxes.
Geoff learned the value of hard work, the importance of getting an education, and the virtue of treating people honestly at an early age. At 16, he earned the rank of Eagle–the highest achievement in Boy Scouts of America.
He graduated from Lehigh University with a double major, and went on to pursue a career in the private sector in both advertising and television.
On a blind date in New York City, Geoff met South Shore native KathyJo Boss. Their romance blossomed, and one year later, they were married.
Moving back to KathyJo’s hometown of Whitman, Geoff became an Account Executive at Sign Design in Brockton and then at Poyant Signs. In the meantime, he helped KathyJo open Boss Academy of Performing Arts in the neighboring town of Hanson.
Geoff became active in the community, and eventually became a member of the Whitman Finance Committee. In 2007, Geoff stepped forward as a private citizen to oversee the restoration of the historic Toll House sign in Whitman. Part of his work included obtaining underwriting for the project by the Nestle Corporation.
In 2010, Geoff ran for state representative and won. On January 5, 2011 he was sworn in as a member of the 187th General Court of Massachusetts, serving the people of the 7th Plymouth District (Abington, East Bridgewater and Whitman) as their state representative.
During his time in office, Geoff has led the fight for more transparency and accountability at the State House. He has worked to increase jobs and send more local aid to cities and towns. Geoff also has been a champion of Massachusetts taxpayers and has taken bold action to protect them from tax hikes.
In 2014, Geoff saved Massachusetts taxpayers from a $2 billion gas tax increase. The Legislature had voted the year before to link the state gas tax to inflation, so that the gas tax would increase automatically every future year. Geoff stepped forward to lead a grassroots effort for a ballot question campaign to repeal the tax hike. His group collected 146,000 signatures in favor of the ballot question, and despite special interest groups outspending his team 31 to 1, Geoff’s group won. Massachusetts drivers have avoided three straight gas tax increases as a result.
That same year, when state lawmakers attempted raise their leadership’s pay by 75 percent, Geoff stepped forward and successfully blocked the effort.
Geoff protected taxpayers again in 2015 when there was a movement to bring the Olympics to Boston. Geoff filed an amendment to the state budget to protect Massachusetts taxpayers from being harmed by any potential cost overruns related to the Games. Geoff also worked to develop a ballot question that would have allowed the Olympics to come to Massachusetts only if taxpayers were held harmless.
In 2016, Geoff was Co-Chairman of the Massachusetts effort to elect Donald Trump as President.
Geoff and his wife, KathyJo, are involved with many local organizations. Geoff is a member of the Abington Lions Club, the East Bridgewater Business Association, and the South Shore Chamber of Commerce. He also is a Member of the Board of the BSA Old Colony Council. KathyJo is Director of Whitman Youth Cheerleading, she is a member of the Whitman Cultural Council, and she supports Hanson’s Little League and D.A.R.E. program. The couple has two daughters.
Geoff’s service as a state representative has been recognized by a number of groups. In 2011, Geoff was recognized as an “Emerging Leader” by the State Legislative Leadership Foundation (SLLF). And, he was named as the 2016 Legislator of the Year for the Massachusetts Ambulance Association.
Diehl’s successful fight to repeal automatic gas tax increases
It was a defining moment in American history when patriots protested ‘Taxation Without Representation’ by throwing tea into the Boston harbor. It led to the American Revolution!
In 2013, when the Massachusetts legislature decided to link the state’s gas tax to the Consumer Price Index, raising the tax automatically every year without a vote of the legislature, Geoff Diehl decided to do something about it.
Working with a grassroots team, Diehl formed a coalition to file a citizens’ petition to repeal automatic gas tax hikes. The first hurdle was obtaining enough signatures to get on the 2014 ballot. Once the language was approved by the Attorney General’s office, Diehl, and his co-chairmen, Steve Aylward and Marty Lamb, led the effort to collect the signatures using only volunteers. Within the 9 week time span, over 120,000 raw signatures were collected.
Despite the support from the people, the legislature refused to enact the petition language. Diehl and his grassroots team were forced to collect another round of 11,000 signatures. No one who had signed previously could sign again. During this round, the grassroots team collected over 24,000 signatures.
In June of 2014, Diehl’s grassroots team finally had a certified ballot question for November.
While Yes on 1 was working to collect signatures, opponents were aggressively fundraising from special interest groups such as asphalt corporations and road construction companies. They claimed that if the ballot question won it would cost the state $2 billion in funding for road and bridge repair.
According to media outlets, “Former Transportation Secretary Richard Davey, who resigned at the end of October, told lawmakers last month that if the question repealing the gas tax indexing passed, the next governor would have to nix many transportation projects from the to-do list because it would eliminate $2 billion in long-term funding.”
While opponents tried to make the case as to why more taxpayer money was needed, Diehl and his team educated voters on the Reason Foundation report showing how expensive Massachusetts roadways are for drivers. According their study, Massachusetts has the second most costly road maintenance is the nation — only New Jersey spends more. The Commonwealth expends $675,000 per mile, per year, which is 4 times the national average. Our neighbors to the north, in New Hampshire, spend 4x less than Massachusetts.
When it comes to administrative costs, Massachusetts spends 8 times the national average. Other states spend $10,000 per mile per year, while the Commonwealth expends $78,000.
Diehl, working alongside the grassroots volunteers, campaigned across the state to get out the message. They held rallies, sent letters to the editor, debated opponents, held signs and so much more.
Despite being outspent by $3 million, voters agreed with Diehl.
The ballot question won with 53% of the vote.
“A small group of conservative activists pushing to repeal automatic increases in the state’s gas tax won their referendum fight, even as contractors and engineers eager for gas-tax-funded road and bridge work outspent them 31 to 1.” (Boston Globe 11.13.14)
Geoff Diehl has saved taxpayers $2 billion!
Being committed to helping the taxpayers, Diehl and his campaign team are now collecting signatures to reduce the sales tax back to 5%. In 2009, the Massachusetts legislature hiked it by 25 percent.
Reducing the tax burden on hard working families in the Commonwealth is a leading priority for Geoff Diehl.
Fight to Protect Taxpayers from Olympic Overruns
Taxpayers are not an ATM for government!
Geoff Diehl is a rare elected official who gets it. He has been a leader in protecting taxpayers’ dollars and stopping tax increases.
Two years ago, there was an orchestrated effort by Beacon Hill insiders and special interest groups to bring the Olympics to Boston in 2024 which would have left taxpayers with massive debt.
The insiders pushing for the Olympics were a coalition of the politically connected. Many of them had advocated for automatic annual gas tax increases, which voters repealed in 2014. The Boston 2024 payroll included Cabinet members, a Governor, transportation officials and a plethora of lobbyists. Here is one news report about this political insider-packed group:
“Rich Davey, Patrick’s former transportation chief and the Olympic organization’s CEO, annually makes $300,000, while Murphy earns $215,000. Joe Rull, a former top aide to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, makes $175,000 as chief administrative officer. Paige Scott Reed, general counsel who moved over from the MBTA, makes $182,500, and Amy Sennett, vice president of strategic initiatives and assistant general counsel, makes $120,000. Consultants include former South Boston Sen. Jack Hart ($10,000 per month), William Coyne Jr. ($10,000 per month), as well as $15,000 a month heading towards Northwind Strategies and Keyser Public Strategies, two firms that were on opposite sides during the 2014 gubernatorial race. Northwind, staffed by a number of former Patrick advisors, worked for Democrat Martha Coakley while Will Keyser worked for Republican Charlie Baker, who won in November.
According to the other salary data released by Boston 2024, monthly contracts will pay Josiane Martinez/Archipelago Strategies Group $5,000 a month and SwiftKurrent $9,000 per month.” (State House News Service 3.9.15)
Even Gov. Deval Patrick accepted a position for $7,500 per day after leaving office. (MassLive 3/9/2015)
Boston 2024’s original bid documents stated: “Our most ardent advocates continue to be Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, whose combined leadership has been a key component of our effort. To further reinforce their commitment, both leaders have specifically assigned senior staff to serve as official liaison to Boston 2024 to coordinate the necessary resources from their transportation, planning, legal and operation departments.”
This coalition was not pro-taxpayer.
The Olympic bid would have required many venues to be built, including a 60,000-person stadium, a 100-acres Olympic village, a velodrome, and an aquatic center. The International Olympic Committee also wanted “game lanes” on Boston roadways that would have been restricted to athletes, IOC members, media and sponsors. (Boston Globe 7/4/2015)
The potential cost overruns for Boston 2024 were enormous. History shows that cities that won Olympic bids have experienced tremendous costs overruns. The London games went $10 billion over budget. (Boston.com 2.12.15)
The New York Times reported that the 1992 Barcelona games went $6.1 billion over budget and the 2004 Athens games ended up costing $16 billion ten times the original budget. Montreal was left with debt for over 30 years. (NY Times 3.27.2012)
Forbes reported that the Sochi Olympics went $13 billion over budget.
Boston 2024 was on track to spend similar amount. One estimate suggested $7.8 billion for transportation costs alone. The Chairman of the legislative transportation committee predicted it would cost more than $13 billion after reading the Boston 2024 bid documents.
According to Think Progress Reports, the average cost overrun for Olympics is 156 percent and half of the games have had cost overruns of 100 percent.
Due to IOC requirements, taxpayers would have been responsible for the billions of dollars in cost overruns. Boston 2024 promised that the games would be profitable and, worse case, the overruns would have been covered by insurance. Yet, there were no premium payments listed in their budget.
On March 29, 2015 Geoff pointed out in the Sun Chronicle, “that not one of the people involved with Boston 2024 are known for being frugal with taxpayer money. I fear the taxpayers are going to be left with a big bill.”
In April, fearing that taxpayers would be forced to pay for huge budget overruns, Geoff filed an amendment to the 2015-2016 state budget to prohibit the use of tax dollars.
As reported in State House News Service: Rep. Geoff Diehl sponsored an amendment to prevent tax dollars from being used “to procure, host, aid, further or remediate the effects of, the 2024 Olympics.” The amendment permitted transportation investments “even if such expenditures may also facilitate procuring, hosting, aiding, furthering, or remediating the effects of, the 2024 Olympics.”
“House lawmakers on Monday night rejected an opportunity to protect tax dollars from beingused to directly support a bid for the 2024 summer Olympics despite stated support for that objective in the past from Beacon Hill’s top leaders.”
“House Speaker Robert DeLeo, along with Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, have all said they would support a ballot initiative barring the use of taxpayer money for the Olympics. Yet when House lawmakers were given the chance to do so during their first night of state budget debate the fight was left to one lone Republican.”
Unfortunately, with all the insiders, lobbyists and special interest groups supporting the Olympics, the Speaker refused to allow a roll call vote – killing Geoff’s legislative effort to protect the taxpayers.
This did not deter Geoff in his effort to protect taxpayers. He formed a bipartisan coalition with former United Independent Party gubernatorial candidate, Evan Falchuk, to do a statewide ballot question to prohibit the use of tax dollars for Olympics overruns.
Evan and Geoff were able to bring together a group of liberal and conservative activists to protect the taxpayers. Both felt that our tax dollars could be used rather for better things than creating venues to be erected and then taken down and creating private fast highway fast lanes for Olympians.
WCVB reported (6/23/2015): “The group behind a ballot question that repealed a law linking increases in the state’s gasoline tax to inflation is now lending its muscle to an effort to block taxpayer funding of the Olympics if Boston is chosen to host the 2024 Summer Games.”
State Rep. Geoff Diehl, one of the organizers of the Yes on 1 committee, said the group is defending the interests of Massachusetts taxpayers.
“Protecting taxpayers doesn’t just mean stopping automatic tax hikes,” the Whitman Republican said in statement. “It also requires prohibiting the expenditure of tax money on non-essentials.
Mass Live reported (6/23/2015): “In a case of strange bedfellows, a former liberal-leaning independent gubernatorial candidate is teaming up with a coalition of anti-tax conservatives to stop tax dollars from being used for the Boston 2024 Olympic bid.
Evan Falchuk, founder of the United Independent Party and an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 2014, is joining with Yes on 1, the group that led a successful effort in 2014 to repeal the automatic indexing of the state’s gas tax to inflation. The coalition plans to gather signatures to get a question on the ballot in 2016 that would prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for a 2024
Olympic bid, other than for transportation investments.
The coalition could be a significant political force. State Rep. Geoff Diehl, R-Whitman, State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, R-Taunton, Steve Aylward and Marty Lamb, who worked on the “Tank the Gas Tax” effort last year will renew their coalition. The group last year attracted 100 coordinators and more than 1,000 volunteers to campaign for the gas tax question. They were significantly outspent by transportation advocates, construction companies, business and labor groups – $2.7 million to $60,000 – but won 53 percent of the statewide vote.”
Commonwealth Magazine reported (6/23/2015): “Falchuk was joined by Republican state Reps. Geoff Diehl of Whitman and Shauna O’Connell of Taunton, who spearheaded the successful drive to repeal the Legislature’s inflation indexing of gas tax hikes.”
NECN reported (6/23/2015): State Representative Geoff Diehl, a Whitman Republican who was a top leader of the Yes on 1 campaign, said: “We knew that we basically had to get out there and put together this team to get the question on the ballot so that there is no question, come November of next year, that taxpayers will be protected.’’
As a state rep, Diehl said, he understands the politics of why Boston 2024 has begun moving so many proposed Olympics venues out of Boston to locations like Billerica, New Bedford, and Squantum, and Monday night announced it plans to use the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts for whitewater slalom racing – but as an anti-tax activist, he wants voters to understand that “everybody is going to be at risk for potentially the overruns on this thing.’’
“When you offer up all these venues around the state, it’s going to be something that people go, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to have it in my district,’ but the fact of the matter is … when there’s something like this going on you’ve got to look beyond just the nice happy news that’s coming. What’s the cost to me, really?’’
State House News Reported (6/23/2015): “Diehl said he will be able to provide Falchuk with “hundreds of activists and volunteers” who will help gather signatures from across five regions of the state, as is required by law.”
“We had to have a diverse group of people from across the state to do this,” said Diehl, adding that the Question 1 campaign also had people holding banners at highway overpasses, standing outside on weekends with campaign signs, and passing out literature door-to-door.”
On August 1, 2015, NECN reported on Geoff and Evan filing language with the Attorney General’s office: “Massachusetts State Rep. Geoff Diehl of Whitman says his group, “Tank Taxes for Olympics,” and its sister group, “Coalition of Citizens for a Say,” plan to continue full steam ahead with their Olympics ballot question in November of 2016 – despite a remark made by Gov. Charlie Baker at a private fundraiser.”
“We think is that there shouldn’t be this non-binding question beforehand because what they’re doing is putting the cart before the horse,” Diehl said. “Tell us how the money is going to end up – are the citizens on the hook or are they not – before you say we should have the Olympics.”
Despite comments made by Boston 2024, the insider group feared a ballot question that would have put the decision in voters’ hands. The original bid documents submitted to the United States Olympic Committee stated:
“There is no applicable referendum process in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Constitution
does provide a state-wide initiative petition process to allow citizens to propose laws for approval by the electorate. Utilization of such process by opponents to the bid is possible, but would require overcoming substantial obstacles including intense use of resources, significant expenditures, legal challenges, and extensive lead time.”
“If certified by the Attorney General, tens of thousands of signatures must be gathered and certified (this year it was 68,911) and the initiative petition must go to the Massachusetts state legislature, which may enact the petition, offer a substitute or take no action. If no action is taken, over ten thousand additional certified signatures must be obtained in order for the petition to be placed on the ballot at the next biennial state election, which is held on even years. The costs to get an initiative petition on the ballot are substantial, usually well in excess of a million dollars.”
As it turns out, Boston 2024 had lied to the United States Olympic Committee. In 2014, Geoff led the successful grassroots effort to repeal automatic gas tax hikes. The team collected 120,000 signatures in nine weeks and won the election only spending $97,000. (Note: Chief Olympic organizer Richard Davies debated against Geoff on repealing automatic gas tax hikes.)
Within two weeks of the ballot question being filed with the Attorney General’s office, the United States Olympic committee withdrew from Boston on July 27, 2015.
While there were other groups working hard to educate the public on the problems with hosting the Olympics, Diehl and Falchuk were the ones with an end game plan to hold organizers legally responsible to the taxpayers.