Boston Globe: Martha Coakley campaign funds in disarray
This weekend, the Boston Globe published an exposé on the campaign finances of Massachusetts Attorney General and candidate for governor Martha Coakley. Here are some key findings:
-- Potential violation of MA campaign finance law: Coakley spent $6,000 of her 2010 Senate funds during her campaign for Governor. Her federal committee funds were used to pay for travel and a state party convention fee and ad. Massachusetts law prohibits the use of federal campaign funds for a state campaign:
“The Massachusetts campaign finance law and regulations promulgated by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) prohibit the transfer of funds or assets between a Massachusetts candidate’s federal and state political committee.”
-- Inaccurate reporting of data: The Martha Coakley for Senate Committee inaccurately reported ending cash balances on its 2011 and 2012 reports:
“After the committee paid off all its debts in 2010, it started 2011 with $70,012. Its reports since then show the committee took in $9,355 in reimbursements and other money owed, but collected no contributions. During the same period, the campaign spent $182,125, well more than it had in cash. Despite that, the committee claimed on its latest finance report to have an ending balance of $6,053.”
-- Failure to respond to FEC Requests for Additional Information: Coakley’s Senate committee received six RFAIs for reports filed since 2011. The committee has yet to respond to any of the requests.
Despite these discrepancies, Coakley reported spending over $70,000 on campaign finance consulting and software. Over one third was paid to Coakley’s sister who serves as Treasurer of the committee.
This story is demonstrative of how finance and compliance issues can overshadow a campaign’s message, especially since Coakley has taken legal action against several elected officials for filing inaccurate or insufficient campaign finance reports during her tenure as Attorney General.
This blog has featured several articles on best practices for campaign treasury management and compliance. Revisit our recommendations for financial accountability here.