The Office of Campaign and Political Finance entered into an agreement with the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound Inc. and Christopher Egan regarding an electioneering communication radio advertisement broadcast shortly before the 2010 gubernatorial election.
According to the terms of the agreement, the Alliance and Egan will jointly make a payment of $22,500 to the state’s general fund. The Alliance also agreed not to engage in any electioneering communications through Dec. 31, 2014, and Egan has agreed to contact OCPF prior to paying for or arranging any electioneering communications through the same date.
An electioneering communication is any TV, radio, mail or print communication that identifies a candidate and is publicly distributed within 90 days before an election. Such communications cannot be coordinated with a campaign, and electioneering communications must be disclosed on OCPF’s Electronic Filing System.
Shortly before the Nov. 2, 2010, gubernatorial election, the Alliance purchased a radio advertisement opposing a proposed offshore windmill energy project. The advertisement referred to Gov. Patrick by name, which made it an electioneering communication subject to the state’s campaign finance law. However, an electioneering communication report was not filed as required and a complaint was received by OCPF.
The agency contacted the Alliance in December of 2010 regarding the complaint and the Alliance promptly filed the required report on Dec. 7, disclosing expenditures of $32,561 for radio advertisements broadcast by five stations. The disclosure report also identified Egan as one of three individuals who donated money to pay for the advertisements. During this time, Egan was one of three finance chairs for the campaign committee supporting Charles Baker, the governor’s challenger.
Based on the timing and content of the advertisements and Egan’s position with the Baker Committee, OCPF concluded that the Alliance made a coordinated electioneering communication expenditure. Coordinated electioneering communications are considered “contributions” and are limited to $500 in a calendar year.
OCPF also concluded that the Alliance violated the campaign finance law by not filing an electioneering communication disclosure report in a timely manner.
According to Egan and the Alliance, Egan was not personally involved with the timing or content of the advertisement campaign, and the text of the broadcast was not submitted to Egan for approval prior to broadcast.
The agreement was signed by Alliance President Audra Parker, Egan and OCPF Director Michael Sullivan.
“The action refers to a November 2010 radio ad highlighting the high costs of Cape Wind to ratepayers," Parker said. "After being notified by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, the Alliance promptly filed the proper paperwork to comply with reporting requirements of which we were previously unaware.”
OCPF is an independent agency that administers the state’s campaign finance law, M.G.L. Chapter 55.
Information from a Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Fiance press release.