State fines alderman $2,500 for missing report

by Tom Nash on January 13, 2011

A missing 2009 campaign finance report from one Somerville alderman now has a $2,500 price tag attached to it.

The year-end campaign finance report, which includes campaign donor contributions and expenditures for elected officials and candidates, are required by state law to be filed on time. When the Jan. 20, 2010 municipal deadline for the year-end 2009 reports came, city Elections Department Chairman Nicholas Salerno said Ward 7 Alderman Bob Trane’s was the only one who did not turn one in.

Salerno said Trane had been contacted several times about the missing report, but would not comment on why Trane was not referred to the state, adding that candidates’ timeliness in filing reports is not usually a problem.

“I may have to chase a couple people here and there, but they turn them in,” he said.

The state’s Office of Campaign & Political Finance, which manages state-level candidates and offices, sometimes receives word from local officials of delinquent reports.

“If the reports are not filed, a candidate can be referred (by a municipality) to our office for possible fines,” OCPF spokesman Jason Tait said, but added it’s up to the city’s Elections Department to decide if and when to inform the office about non-compliance.

The OCPF, however, made the first move. It referred Trane to the state attorney general in September after not finding the 2009 report in its records, despite the fact he had not run for state office since 2008, when he unsuccessfully challenged State Rep. Carl Sciortino.

Tait said it remains unclear why Trane remained in the OCPF system, but a notice of a $2,500 penalty, the maximum possible for a late report, was sent to Trane earlier this month.

According to the letter sent to Trane, a report was eventually filed with the OCPF in October, although Tait says what they received was actually the report covering the first part of the 2009, which was also filed with the city. Tait said the state accepted the earlier report and is not pursuing the missing year-end report further, although the fine is still standing.

Trane did not respond to requests for comment.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Barry Rafkind January 13, 2011 at 9:48 PM

This is a really crazy story! First, the OCPF finds a missing report for Ald. Trane who wasn’t even supposed to remain in their system and gets the AG to fine him $2,500. Then, when he submits an old report, they accept it and decide to abandon the case?! WTF? Either the OCPF is incompetent or there’s something fishy going on here.

eila January 14, 2011 at 3:30 PM

I’m surprised to learn that infractions are left up to the local Elections Department to enforce. If the Department enforcers are socially connected with the politician, wouldn’t a lack of accountability be of concern?

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