MassGOP Files OCPF Complaint Against Martha Coakley For Multiple Campaign Finance Violations

BOSTON- Today, the MassGOP filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance after recent reports indicate Attorney General Martha Coakley violated multiple campaign finance laws for the second time since entering the gubernatorial race. 

“Campaign finance laws are in place to uphold the integrity of the political system and an immediate investigation is required to stop Martha Coakley from trampling these laws all over again,” said Kirsten Hughes, MassGOP Chairman. “Given the overwhelming evidence uncovered by the media showing she abused public resources for political gain and failed to report thousands in liabilities, we are confident this complaint will be as successful as the last complaint we filed which forced Coakley to forfeit over $18,000.” 

Today’s complaint seeks the following:

- The OCPF to conduct an investigation and then, if necessary, seek the appointment of a special assistant Attorney General to handle the case given the inherent conflict of interest in referring the matter to Coakley’s office, which prosecutes campaign finance violations.

- A full audit of her personal and campaign finance records and reimbursement requests from  January 1, 2008 through May 23, 2014, to ensure Coakley’s recent reimbursement to the Commonwealth in the amount of $10,890 for gas and mileage fully refunds the public resources used to benefit her campaign.

- An investigation into the apparent use of public resources for Coakley’s political gain. 

- An investigation into the apparent failure of Coakley’s committee to report thousands of dollars in liabilities.
 

The following letter details Coakley’s recent violations and the applicable Massachusetts General Law sections she likely violated:

May 27, 2014

 
Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF)
ATTN: Michael Sullivan, Executive Director
One Ashburton Place Room 411
Boston, MA 02108

Dear Mr. Sullivan,

On behalf of the Massachusetts Republican Party, I write to ask that the Office of Campaign and Political Finance conduct an investigation into yet another instance of questionable campaign finance spending by the Coakley Committee (“Coakley”), documented in The Boston Globe’s May 21, 2014 article entitled, “Coakley to reimburse Mass. for political travel,” and the Boston Herald’s May 25, 2014 article entitled, “Martha Coakley makes ‘common error.’”

Should OCPF need to refer the matter to the Attorney General’s Office, which prosecutes campaign finance violations, we request you seek the appointment of a special assistant AG to handle the case independently and without a conflict of interest. 

Additionally, we request a full audit of Attorney General Coakley’s personal and campaign finance records and reimbursement requests from  January 1, 2008 through May 23, 2014, to ensure her recent reimbursement to the Commonwealth in the amount of $10,890 for gas and mileage fully refunds the public resources used to benefit her campaign. The Attorney General herself has made similar requests for open and independent investigations when mismanagement of public resources are discovered, as she recently explained while calling for a independent investigation of the state drug lab scandal: “[I]t is critical that all parties have unquestioned faith in (the) process… so that they will have full confidence in the conclusions drawn at the end.”

Based on publicly available documents and the recent media reports, the Massachusetts Republican Party requests an independent investigation into the following apparent violations:

1. Attorney General Martha Coakley used public resources for travel to and from campaign events over a period of four years. “Attorney General Martha Coakley did not reimburse Massachusetts for more than four years of travel to campaign and political events in a state vehicle, dating back to the month after her 2010 US Senate loss, according to her campaign and a review of state campaign finance filings.” (Josh Miller, “Coakley to reimburse Mass. for political travel,” The Boston Globe, 5/21/14)

Your office’s campaign finance guide entitled “Public Employees, Public Resources and Political Activity” clearly defines public resources prohibited from political activity by M.G.L Ch 55, as “cars” and “staff time.”
 

2. The resources Attorney General Martha Coakley used for political gain constitute unreported “liabilities” by her political campaign. According to media reports, Attorney General Coakley repaid the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the amount of $10,820.09 on May 21, 2014, for goods and services – including the purchase of gas – which benefited her political committee over a period of four years and never reported an in-kind contribution, loan, or liability from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 

970 CMR 2.10 Section (d) clearly states that if a political committee does not reimburse individuals within 30 days of the purchase the resources must be considered an in-kind contribution or a loan. “If a committee does not reimburse an individual for goods or services purchased by that individual for the committee within 30 days of the purchase, the committee should consider the individual’s expenditure as an in-kind contribution or a loan.” (970 CMR 2.10 Section (d))

Additionally, after a review of Attorney General Coakley’s campaign finances, the Boston Herald confirmed the gas and mileage costs financed by the Commonwealth to aid Coakley’s campaign were not reported as liabilities. “But a review of Coakley’s campaign finance records show she never disclosed the debt, even though she previously acknowledged she was aware of it.” (Matt Stout, “Martha Coakley makes ‘common error,’” the Boston Herald, 5/25/14)

Throughout her tenure, Attorney General Coakley has doggedly pursued those who violate the state’s campaign finance laws.  In August, while suing William Lantigua for various alleged violations, Attorney General Coakley noted “[c]ampaign finance laws ensure the integrity of the electoral system. These disclosures are important to let voters know where candidates’ contributions are coming from and to help them make informed decisions about who to support.” (“Lawrence Mayor Sued by AG’s Office and Office for Campaign and Political Finance for Inaccurate Reporting and Potentially Illegal Cash Contributions,” Coakley press release, 08/27/13).  The Republican Party holds the rule of law in similar esteem, and therefore requests that OCPF swiftly investigate these apparent violations of state law.

 

In addition, this latest legal infraction that Coakley admitted to is just one more instance in a pattern of campaign finance irregularities dating back to her failed bid for U.S. Senate. In 2009, the Attorney General ran afoul of campaign finance regulations by expending state funds to aid her federal efforts.  The Boston Herald reported in 2009 that Coakley spent $25,000 out of her state campaign account on a poll asking questions about her potential federal campaign and spent $24,000 from her state account on Washington, D.C. consultants prior to the announcement of her run for U.S. Senate, (“Martha Coakley Used Campaign Cash on Fed Race Query,” Boston Herald, 9/2/09). Further, after announcing her run for Senate, Coakley also spent more than $30,000 out of her federal account to the same consultants she claimed were hired to work on her 2010 state Attorney General campaign (“$30G in Funds Paid to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Consultants Eyed,” Boston Herald, 10/17/09). More recently, Attorney General Coakley admitted to violating state campaign finance laws and forfeited $18,000 as a result of your office’s investigation. (Michael Norton, “Office of Campaign Finance settles Coakley noncompliance,” State House News Service, 4/17/14)

Given this pattern of flaunting campaign finance laws and her legal authority over the investigation as the state’s Attorney General, we urge the Office of Campaign and Political Finance to investigate this complaint swiftly and seek an independent, third-party prosecutor if necessary.

Sincerely,

Kirsten Hughes
Chairman
Massachusetts Republican Party