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State Republican party calls for third-party investigation into Coakley’s political spending

The Massachusetts Republican Party asked the state campaign finance regulatory office Tuesday to create “a third-party investigation” into Attorney General Martha Coakley’s political spending.

In a letter to the Office of Campaign & Political Finance, Kirsten Hughes, the GOP state chairwoman, said any review of Coakley’s management of her political funds should be conducted outside the current system - which calls for the attorney general’s office to enforce campaign finance infractions as determined by the OCPF.

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“It is unfair to ask OCPF to conduct an investigation when its findings would either exonerate Attorney General Coakley or result in OCPF asking the Attorney General to enforce the law against herself,’’ Hughes wrote.

“The obvious conflicts inherent in an OCPF investigation into the Attorney General’s conduct compel a departure from the normal course,’’ she said.

The party’s complaint Tuesday came on the heels of stories by the Boston Globe that raised questions as to whether Coakley used the leftover funds from her failed US Senate race to promote her state political campaigns. State campaign finance law bars state candidates or their committees from accepting funds from a federal political committee.

The state Republican party pointed to the fact that $6,000 from her US Senate committee paid for Coakley’s political activities since the 2010 special Senate election. It also noted that the federal committee spent $35,000 in leftover funds to maintain a federal software database. Coakley spokesman Kyle Sullivan said the database has never been used for her state political operations.

In addition, the GOP complaint cites the dual role of Anne Gentile, Coakley’s sister, as treasurer for both her state and federal committees. Her salary was paid from the federal account. Hughes said the arrangement “provides an improper benefit’’ for Coakley’s state campaign from the federal funds. Coakley aides said Gentile’s salary only pertained to her work on the nearly-defunct federal committee.

Frank Phillips can be reached at
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