BOSTON -- Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and his political committee appeared to violate state law by accepting campaign contributions raised by former Chelsea Housing Authority director Michael McLaughlin, according to the state agency that regulates political fundraising in Massachusetts.
The findings were forwarded to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office in a Sept. 19 letter from Michael Sullivan, director of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
In the letter, Sullivan said investigators from the office found evidence that between 2008 and 2011 McLaughlin and another former housing authority official violated campaign finance laws that prohibit political fundraising by public employees and political fundraising in public buildings.
The letter, made available Thursday by the OCPF, also stated that in receiving the contributions, there was evidence the lieutenant governor and the Citizens Committee to Elect Tim Murray failed to comply with another section of the law that prohibits the solicitation or receipt of contributions that were illegally raised.
Murray, citing family considerations, announced last week that he had decided not to run for governor in 2014.
His campaign spokesman, Scott Ferson, said in a statement Thursday that Murray had requested that OCPF look into the matter last January after The Boston Globe reported that McLaughlin had run an extensive political operation for Murray.
"Since that time we have cooperated fully and answered all questions. The Murray Committee never authorized Michael McLaughlin to do any fundraising on its behalf," said Ferson.
A spokesman for OCPF referred further questions about the September letter to Coakley’s office.
Brad Puffer, a spokesman for the attorney general, said the issues raised in the letter were under investigation and the office could not comment further. Coakley’s office participated in the probe that led to a federal charge filed against McLaughlin on Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors allege McLaughlin falsely reported his salary to the federal government while at the housing authority. He has not been charged with any campaign finance wrongdoing.
Investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s office alleged that in the 2011 fiscal year, McLaughlin reported that his annual salary was $160,415, when he knew his actual salary was at least $283,471 and his total compensation was at least $324,896.
Murray, who was not named in the allegations against McLaughlin, has denied knowledge of the allegedly inflated salary.
"What we know from yesterday is that Mike McLaughlin deceived a lot of people and no one is more upset by his behavior than the lieutenant governor," Ferson said.
Violations of the section of the campaign finance law that prohibits the solicitation or receipt of contributions not raised in accordance with the law can be punished by a prison sentence of up to six months or a maximum fine of $500.