BOSTON -- Gregory Hyatt, the embattled Republican candidate for governor, withdrew from the race Tuesday in the face of allegations he asked an organized crime figure for fund-raising help.
Hyatt -- who less than a week ago defiantly insisted he would remain in the race unless funds dried up -- became the second Republican to drop out of the Sept. 16 primary. Earlier, State Rep. Royall Switzler withdrew after admitting to embellishing his war record.
The name of both men will appear on the ballot, but Hyatt's decision cleared the way for a special Republican commission to name a challenger to popular Gov. Michael Dukakis.
'I think he did what was right for himself and what was right for the party,' said GOP Executive Director Michael Hannahan.
In a terse statement, the 32-year-old North Andover attorney denied his withdrawal was tied to a Boston Herald report that he was recorded in a federal wiretap asking reputed organized crime figure George Kattar to raise campaign money and accepting a personal donation.
Hyatt, who had also been linked to bizarre behavior and whose nomination petitions contained more than 1,000 forged signatures, said he will 'spend the next few months of my time clearing my name and seeking vindication.'
The Herald said Essex County District Attorney Kevin Burke was investigating whether Hyatt violated campaign laws requiring that donations of more than $25 be reported. Cash contributions of more than $50 are prohibited.
Hyatt said Kattar was a neighbor of his father for 25 years and a family friend. He refused to disclose the amount he received from Kattar's office last spring and said he did not consider it a loan.
'I asked him to raise money. He indicated he might raise some. We're both Lebanese,' Hyatt said. 'He did give me a small amount of money, but it wasn't a campaign contribution ... it was a fairly trifling amount.'
Kattar, linked to mob figures in Senate hearings in 1971, goes on trial Wednesday on charges of extorting $33,000 from the Church of Scientology.