Maginn worked with Romney at Bain for almost two decades, and has served as national co-chair of his presidential fundraising team. Maginn serves in the same capacity for Brown's Senate campaign.

His new Web site, maginnforchair.com, is registered to Peter Fullerton of Swift Current Strategies, according to Whois. Fullerton and others at Swift Current are veterans of Brown's 2010 Senate campaign, and are consulting on his re-election. Brown's daughter Ayla even performed in June at a fundraiser for Maginn's wife's new foundation.

Until now, Maginn's political activities have been largely behind-the-scenes — with notable exceptions. He ran for state treasurer in 1998, losing badly to Shannon O'Brien in the race to succeed Republican Joe Malone. (Maginn then hired Malone at his start-up company.)

Judging from Maginn's '98 campaign, which O'Brien says was "particularly negative," Democrats can expect tough attacks from a Maginn-led MassGOP. Republicans might worry about his ability to organize a ground game. "He had no grassroots organization to speak of," O'Brien recalls.

Four years later, when O'Brien ran against Romney for governor, Maginn made news by flagrantly violating state election law.

In the final days of that 2002 race, Maginn, along with deep-pocketed GOP donor John Childs, secretly funded a radio ad urging supporters of Green Party candidate Jill Stein to vote for Romney. Maginn and Childs each funneled $25,000 through an attorney to a Washington front group, avoiding disclosure requirements for ads in the final week of an election.

Maginn and Childs fessed up to the dirty trick after the election, when the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) traced the money to them. They were penalized with a laughable $500 fine.


HITTING THE FAMILY

Maginn's opponents have not yet made an issue of that OCPF black mark. But they have raised questions, fairly or not, about his wife, Chai Ling — arguing that Ling's activities provide evidence that Maginn is not a true conservative, or a trustworthy Republican.

Ling, a Chinese dissident who fled to the west after playing a key leadership role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, has led a very public and occasionally controversial fight against the Communist Party. That has at times drawn in Maginn, and Jenzabar, the Web-service company they co-founded with help from Bain Capital and others in Romney's circles.

Local conservative blogs have expressed outrage that Ling spoke last month to Occupy Boston and penned an encouraging op-ed to the movement for Huffington Post. That stands in marked contrast to most conservatives' unabashed criticism of the movement — notably, in an anti-Warren ad from Karl Rove's Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies.

Bloggers have also discovered that Maginn himself gave $2400 to Democratic New York senator Charles Schumer in 2009 — not unusual for a financial executive, but jarring for a Republican party leader.

There are also questions about Maginn and Ling's operation of Jenzabar. A 2003 Forbes magazine article ripped the company as "Good story; bad business" — and according to its own filings in a current civil suit, revenues rose only one percent over the following five years. In that lawsuit, an investor claims that Maginn and Ling improperly awarded themselves substantial raises and retroactive bonuses.


GROWING RIFT

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