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Incoming Boston city councilor broke law, pays $5,400 penalty after promoting fund-raiser while still a city employee

Enrique Pepén celebrated his District 5 victory at his election night watch party held at Guira y Tambora in Roslindale.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Enrique Pepén, a former City Hall official who won a hotly contested Boston City Council seat this month, broke state campaign finance laws when he promoted his campaign kickoff in a half-dozen social media posts while still working as a city employee, state regulators ruled.

Pepén agreed to pay a $5,400 penalty as part of a resolution with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. The Roslindale Democrat won the city’s District 5 seat this month after earning Mayor Michelle Wu’s endorsement during a heated primary contest that featured embattled incumbent Ricardo Arroyo.

Regulators suggested the penalty is in line with donations Pepén collected at the June event at a Roslindale restaurant, which Pepén promoted in various social media posts, some of which included suggested contributions ranging from $50 to $1,000.


Unelected public employees are barred from soliciting political donations, a ban that applies “at all times,” not just during work hours, officials said.

Regulators said Pepén also conducted an interview for his campaign from his City Hall office, though it was after normal business hours and he used his personal cell phone. His campaign previously said he did not use city Wi-Fi for the interview, and while regulators said it does not appear he used public resources, it warned that public employees shouldn’t use their offices for political purposes, even if the “activity takes place after working hours.”

Pepén later resigned from his job as executive director of the city’s neighborhood services in July.

When the Globe raised questions about his social media posts in July, Pepén apologized for what he called a “lapse in judgment.”

Reached by phone Thursday, he referred back to his earlier statement, attributing the episode as part of “learning from being a first-time candidate.” He declined to comment on the penalty itself, saying he wants to “start off [being] a councilor the right way.”


OCPF officials said Pepén paid the penalty this month. He reported having $16,159 in his campaign account to close October.

Pepén will represent a district covering Hyde Park, Roslindale, and parts of Mattapan. He was one of four new faces elected to the Boston City Council, elevating a largely left-leaning slate to the city’s legislative body.

His win and others also represented a major victory for Wu, who wasn’t even on the ballot. All four of her picks — Pepén, Henry Santana, Benjamin Weber, and Sharon Durkan — prevailed in their respective races. The only newcomer she hadn’t endorsed who won was John FitzGerald, who claimed Dorchester-based District 3, an open seat.

FitzGerald was also a city employee when he ran his race, serving as the deputy director at the Boston Planning & Development Agency.

His campaign raised more than $100,000, including after taking donations from several developers. His campaign was adamant that he did not run afoul of the law that bars public employees from directly or indirectly receiving or soliciting “anything of value for any political purpose,” saying he never solicited a donation for his campaign.

Matt Stout can be reached at Follow him @mattpstout.