Responding to news that the attorney general is investigating his fund-raising, Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray said Friday that he will cooperate and will return any campaign contributions that he should not have received.
“I think it was reported that last year I sat down and answered any questions that people have had, both with the OCPF [Office of Campaign and Political Finance] and with state and federal investigators on this, and we’re willing to do that,” he said. “We stand ready to continue to work with them to get money that we should not be in receipt of back to whoever gave it.”
He said that it was “apparent somehow that we were in receipt of donations that people were pressured to give” and that he did not want such money.
“If we made mistakes, I’m responsible,” he told reporters gathered before an event in Worcester. “I will take responsibility for whatever mistakes that may have been made.”
Murray also denied that the questions about his fund-
raising played any role in his decision, announced last week, to forgo a run for governor. “I withdrew for family reasons,” he said.
He said that caucuses will begin in February for delegates to the June Democratic convention, while campaigning would ramp up in March with St. Patrick’s Day events.
“For all intents and purposes, the campaign begins for 2014 soon, so we were at that jump-off point,” he said. “That’s the reason why.”
Several news organizations, including the Globe, reported that campaign finance regulators have found evidence that Murray violated state law by accepting political donations from Michael E. McLaughlin, the disgraced former Chelsea housing director.
The regulators, in a letter sent in September, asked the attorney general to investigate Murray, as well as key members of his campaign. If eventually charged and convicted of knowingly accepting illegally raised contributions, Murray could face jail time and fines.
Murray himself initially asked regulators to examine his fund-raising.
“Obviously, the news of the last couple of days is frustrating, but it’s something that I think everyone knew I asked for,” he said. “It’s been reported, and we’re trying to get to the bottom and working accordingly. You work hard, you try to build a reputation to get things done, and you try to make sure you’re doing things right.”
The Globe reported in January 2012 that McLaughlin was a key organizer and fund-raiser for Murray, although Murray aides denied at the time that McLaughlin was a fund-raiser.
Several people said they attended fund-raising parties for Murray where McLaughlin and Murray stood side by side.
Political fund-raising was constant and “pretty much done in the open” at the Chelsea Housing Authority, said an employee who remembered donating cash to Murray’s campaign at the office. Everyone from maintenance workers to top managers were solicited for cash donations for Murray by McLaughlin’s top aides, the employee told the Globe.
Governor Deval Patrick again expressed support for Murray Friday.
“The lieutenant governor and I have had a lot of conversations about this,” Patrick said outside a meeting of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported. “He has answered a lot of very pointed questions, not just from you folks, but also from me.
“I trust him. His answers have been complete. He has continued to cooperate with authorities who are looking into it. Right now, we have got an investigation ongoing, and we just have to let that play out.”