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State GOP chair donated to Democrats

Maginn contributed to Patrick, N.Y. senator

The state Republican Party’s new chairman, Robert A. Maginn Jr., gave Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, $500, the maximum allowable under state law, during Patrick’s reelection campaign last year.

It was not the first contribution to a Democrat made by Maginn, the chief executive of the software company Jenzabar Inc. In 2009, he gave $2,400 to US Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, a frequent target of conservatives.

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In an interview yesterday, Maginn - a fund-raiser for Republicans, including Mitt Romney - acknowledged both of the across-the-aisle contributions.

His donation to Patrick, he said, was motivated by the governor’s support for a charity on whose board Maginn serves. That charity, One Family Inc., helps formerly homeless families and was founded by former Reebok chief executive Paul Fireman. It was Fireman who invited Maginn to the Patrick fund-raiser, a party that featured singer John Legend.

“Those of us that run the charity were asked to come and support’’ Patrick, Maginn said yesterday, noting that the governor “was supportive of our charity.’’

“I do a lot of charity because as a follower of Jesus, I believe that’s what Jesus would want me to do,’’ he added.

Maginn’s contribution has drawn little scrutiny until now because both his name and the name of his company had been misspelled on campaign finance documents, making them difficult to find.

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Yesterday, he said he remembered the contribution and went looking for it when he was running for the GOP chairmanship and was already facing criticism for his earlier donation to Schumer.

But, he said, he could not find evidence of the Patrick contribution, apparently because of the misspelling.

“People were already criticizing me for the Schumer contribution,’’ Maginn said. “I wanted to make sure there was no other Democratic contributions I had made or were reported.’’

As for the Schumer donation, Maginn said he gave that because he agrees with the New York Democrat on certain policies governing trade with China and because it enabled him to leverage contributions to Romney.

He said he warned Republicans when he was running for the party chairmanship that he was sometimes called upon as a business leader and philanthropist to support politicians outside his party.

“As a CEO and philanthropist and major fund-raiser for the GOP, there are times, very rare, when I may be invited and feel compelled to go and support one of my friends who’s doing a fundraiser for Democrats,’’ he said.

However, he said he would no longer do so as chairman of the state GOP.

In 2010, Maginn also gave $500 to his party’s nominee, Charles D. Baker, records show.

Baker was among the state Republican leaders who backed Maginn’s bid to lead the state party last month, along with US Senator Scott Brown and the former governor, Paul Cellucci.

Maginn beat out former US attorney Frank McNamara in November for the chairmanship of the state’s minority party at a time of intense focus on the Massachusetts GOP nationally.

Romney, the state’s former governor, is a leading contender for the Republican nomination for president, and Brown is vying to keep the seat he won unexpectedly in 2010.

Maginn has already raised eyebrows by putting two former congressmen on his company payroll. He also tapped one of them - Peter Blute, the former congressman who was jettisoned from public service in 1999 after a scandalous booze cruise - to work for the state Republican Party as his unpaid deputy.

In 2003, Maginn was fined $500 by the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance for failing to disclose his role in helping pay for a $50,000 radio ad campaign that aided Romney’s race for governor.

The ads were attributed to a group called Citizens for Good Government that claimed it was not connected to Romney.

As chairman of the state GOP, Maginn is responsible for spearheading party fund-raising efforts.

Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at ebbert@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @stephanieebbert.

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