Former Mass. LG fined for campaign violations - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Former Mass. LG fined for campaign violations

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BOSTON (AP) - Former Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and his political committee agreed Thursday to pay $80,000 in penalties to settle allegations that he accepted campaign contributions that were illegally solicited by the former head of the Chelsea Housing Authority and another state official.

The settlement was announced by Attorney General Martha Coakley and the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, which opened an inquiry into Murray's campaign finances last year.

Coakley also announced indictments Thursday charging Michael McLaughlin, the Chelsea housing official, with unlawfully soliciting contributions from state workers for Murray and other political campaigns.

McLaughlin's arraignment was scheduled for Sept. 5. His lawyer, Thomas Hoopes, declined to comment.

Murray, who now heads the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, will not face criminal charges and said in a statement that he was glad the civil settlement brings his case to an end.

"If I knew in 2006 what I know today about Mr. McLaughlin, I would have never had any association with him at all," Murray said. "Nevertheless, Mr. McLaughlin's behavior does not change the fact that I am ultimately responsible for administrative oversights made by my committee."

Murray added that he had learned from his mistakes and "should have been more vigilant."

The settlement calls for Murray to refund $50,000 in illegal contributions made to his political committee and to pay a $30,000 fine, of which $10,000 must come from his own personal funds. He was also ordered to dissolve his committee.

"Based on our investigation, we allege that two separate public employees unlawfully solicited tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for the former lieutenant governor," Coakley said.

The second public employee was not named, but was identified by authorities as a state Department of Transportation supervisor who helped organize fundraisers for Murray in the Worcester area between 2008 and 2010.

Murray announced in January that he would not, as had been widely expected, run for governor in 2014. He cited family reasons.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance later released a letter it sent last year to Coakley saying there was evidence Murray and his political committee violated the law by accepting donations raised by McLaughlin.

Murray has acknowledged that McLaughlin was a political supporter but said he never asked McLaughlin to raise campaign money for him. He said he requested the original probe by OCPF.

The one-time Worcester mayor resigned as lieutenant governor in May after serving 6 1/2 years under Gov. Deval Patrick.

A Suffolk County grand jury indicted McLaughlin on Thursday on four counts of unlawful solicitation by a public employee and four counts of conspiracy to solicit in a public building, Coakley said.

Prosecutors said McLaughlin directed a housing authority worker to collect contributions for Murray from other employees, and that he asked employees and others associated with the agency to attend a trio of fundraisers McLaughlin organized for Murray in Methuen.

McLaughlin was sentenced to three years in prison last month after pleaded guilty earlier this year to unrelated federal charges that he knowingly concealed his salary in annual housing authority budgets from 2008 to 2011 and falsely reported his annual salary in 2011.

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