Boston Property Ventures, a Quincy real estate development and investment management firm, has paid the state $250,000 to settle allegations that it made illegal campaign contributions to 11 state and local politicians, including Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.
The payment marked the second highest civil forfeiture obtained by state campaign finance regulators, officials said.
The state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance determined that over the past three years the company’s president, Richard McDonald, asked 16 employees of Boston Property Ventures or its subsidiary, Northeast Addictions Treatment Center, to support certain candidates. At McDonald’s direction, the company then reimbursed the employees for donations that totaled at least $57,500, according to an agreement between the company and state investigators.
The company placed funds in the employees' personal banking accounts either shortly before or shortly after their contributions were made.
In a statement, Boston Property Ventures said it is “grateful for the professionalism" of investigators in the state campaign finance office.
“When OCPF contacted us about their concerns, we engaged a team to assist in the investigation and cooperated with all requests for information,” the statement said. “When supporting particular candidates, we never asked for, nor did we receive anything in return.”
The highest donations went to the campaigns of Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, who received $15,500, Quincy City Councilor Brad Croall, who received $13,000, and Baker who received $10,000. Polito received $5,500 and Quincy City Councilor Brian Palmucci received $5,000. Smaller donations were made to Boston City Councilors Michael Flaherty and Edward Flynn; Norfolk County Sheriff Jerry McDermott; Quincy City Councilor Noel DiBona and former Quincy city councilors Kirsten Hughes and Margaret Laforest.
“Neither the candidates nor their respective committees had any knowledge that the contributions were made with corporate funds provided by someone other than the named contributor," until they were notified by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, the agency said.
The campaigns have voluntarily committed to returning the funds to the state by the end of the year.
As part of the settlement, the agency said it would not refer the alleged violations to any other governmental agency, including the attorney general’s office.
The review was launched in response to "a pattern of giving that suggested that contributions may have been made to avoid the disclosure of the true source of the funds,” the agency said. Investigators found that the company violated state campaign finance law that prohibits disguising the true source of campaign contributions and contributions from a limited liability company to a candidate.
Boston Property Ventures did not respond to requests for comment. According to the settlement, company officials said they didn’t intend to violate the law, but “now understand how their actions may be viewed as a violation of the campaign finance laws.”
The company’s chief financial officer, Blake Cunningham, signed the reimbursement checks at the direction of McDonald, according to the agreement.
In 2017, a New York social welfare organization paid more than $425,000 to the state’s general fund after investigators determined Families for Excellent Schools-Advocacy attempted to disguise more than $15 million in contributions to the Great School Massachusetts Ballot Question Committee over a five-month period, officials said.