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Massachusetts candidate presses foe on investment

October 22, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley said Wednesday that Republican rival Charlie Baker should take steps before the Nov. 4 election to disclose details of an investment made by the state of New Jersey in a venture capital firm with ties to Baker.

Coakley, the state attorney general, said the case raised “public integrity” questions. Baker has repeatedly said there was no wrongdoing.

Baker made a $10,000 donation to the New Jersey Republican Party in 2011, shortly before that state’s pension fund invested in General Catalyst at a time when Baker was an executive-in-residence for the firm.

The investment, which was sold last month for $4.5 million, is the subject of an ongoing review by auditors for the New Jersey treasury department to determine if General Catalyst complied with state regulations regarding the disclosure of political contributions from employees, according to Christopher Santarelli, a treasury spokesman.

Santarelli said findings would not be made public before the next meeting of the State Investment Council, which is scheduled for Nov. 19.

Coakley said Baker may have been in violation of so-called pay-to-play rules in New Jersey. She called on the Republican to release his employment contract with General Catalyst, and to urge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a political ally of his, to make the review public before the election so voters can weigh the findings.

“Whether he is in violation or not of that statute is incredibly important to someone who wants to be governor of Massachusetts,” Coakley told reporters after visiting a homeless shelter for veterans Wednesday.

“All I know is that looking at it, it does not look good. He owes the voters ... an explanation,” Coakley added.

Santarelli said it would not be accurate to call the review a pay-to-play investigation.

Baker said Wednesday he has been fully transparent about his role in the investment.

“I asked the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission to determine if I needed to take corrective action on this. He reviewed it and wrote a report that said no, and I shared that with the public,” he said.

Baker maintains he was not an employee of General Catalyst at the time the donation was made to the New Jersey GOP, but that his role was to identify potential business opportunities for the company. He was previously listed, however, as a partner in the company on campaign finance reports.

Asked about Coakley’s request that he seek release of the audit prior to the election, Baker responded that he had no control over the actions of New Jersey pension officials.

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Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Hackensack, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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