BOSTON (AP) -- Tea party-affiliate Mark Fisher is rejecting an offer from the Massachusetts Republican Party to certify him as a candidate for governor in exchange for delaying any additional legal proceedings in his lawsuit against the party until after the election.
Fisher said Wednesday he's moving ahead with his lawsuit and wants the court to stick to a June 16 trial date. He said he wants the court to force the party to release tally sheets from the Massachusetts Republican Convention.
The party maintains that Fisher fell just short of becoming eligible for the ballot by failing to win the backing of 15 percent of the delegates at the March convention. Charlie Baker won the party's endorsement.
Fisher sued, claiming that the party violated its own rules by including blank ballots in the tally and adding 54 additional blanks to the total after the roll call on the convention floor.
"They're willing to put me on the ballot only if the criminal activity isn't exposed," Fisher said in a telephone interview. "We need the tally sheets. Where did those extra 54 ballots come from? It's how they stole the election.
"Just put me on the ballot," he added.
Baker and Fisher are the only candidates seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the September primary. Five Democrats and several independent candidates are also vying to succeed Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, who is not seeking a third term.
In their court filing, party leaders denied wrongdoing but said in "the best interests of the public, as well as the Republican Party," they would no longer contest Fisher's certification in exchange for a delay in additional legal proceedings until after the election.
"The litigation has become a distraction to the Republican Party and a drain on its resources, which should be used for the election of its candidates," argued party leaders, including MassGOP chair Kirsten Hughes.
They also faulted Fisher for an "unwavering commitment to publicize every aspect of the case both by speaking to newspapers and publishing on his web page and on Facebook every aspect of the dispute" and said he used "relationships within the Republican Party to carry his torch and caused increased disruption to the party."
They said the only remaining claim will be for damages and that can be litigated after the election.
In a separate filing late Wednesday, Fisher rejected the offer.
"The defendants are obviously desperate to prevent the plaintiff (Fisher) from seeing the tally sheets," the filing said. "The plaintiff's strong suspicion is that the tally sheets will show that the defendants manipulated the voting so as to prevent him from being included on the primary ballot."
Fisher said he's collected more than the 10,000 voter signatures, also needed by state law to secure a spot on the ballot.
He also pushed back against what a Republican Party lawyer said was a demand Fisher made for $1 million in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.
"It is unlawful to compensate someone in exchange for not seeking election," GOP attorney Louis Ciavarra said in a letter dated Tuesday to Fisher's attorney, Thomas Harvey.
Fisher said it was the GOP who pressed him to accept a settlement.
"The first mention of the million dollars came from them to me back in December," Fisher said.
Fisher said he rejected the offer, but the party kept pressing him.
Fisher said he finally said, "Yes if this thing drags out, I'll consider a cash settlement as part of bigger deal that puts me on the ballot. Never ever were we ever considering a cash settlement that wouldn't put me on the ballot."
Baker and Fisher are the only candidates seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Five Democrats and several independent candidates are also vying to succeed Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, who is not seeking a third term.