Company, owner pay $150,000 for hiding campaign donations
By STEVE LeBLANC
Mar. 21, 2017
BOSTON (AP) — A Brockton business owner and his construction company have paid $150,000 for disguising the true source of campaign contributions.
The Office of Campaign and Political Finance said Tuesday J. Derenzo Companies gave $37,000 to employees and their family members to reimburse them for contributions they made to nine candidates — including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.
The contributions were reported as donations from the individuals, not the company.
Campaign finance law prohibits disguising the true origin of a contribution, and bans corporate contributions.
Campaign finance officials said the company utilized a petty cash account to reimburse employees for their campaign contributions from 2006 to 2016, when it launched an examination of the donations.
Investigators said money from the account also was given to employees' family members to let them to make contributions.
The company and its owner, David Howe, agreed to pay $125,000 to the state's general fund. Howe also contributed $25,000 to a charity with personal funds as part of the agreement.
Campaign finance officials said Howe cooperated with the investigation.
Officials from J. Derenzo Companies said Tuesday they had been unaware of the restrictions.
"Our honest effort to encourage employee engagement in the political process brought to light some OCPF restrictions that we were previously unaware," the company said in a statement "We sincerely appreciate the guidance offered by the OCPF, which was immediately implemented. We now fully comply with these regulations and continue our commitment of encouraging employee participation in the political process."
Campaign finance officials said the candidates who received the contributions — which also include Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and the Democratic State Committee — were not aware that the contributions were made with corporate funds.
Walsh had received the most money — about $14,500.
Those candidates with existing campaign accounts have agreed to write checks to charities in the amount of the donations they received.
A total of $35,000 will be given up to charities by the candidates and committees. The remaining $2,000 was received by campaign committees that no longer exist.