State campaign finance regulators released a narrow ruling Wednesday holding that a conservative outside group does not constitute a political action committee, but should disclose the name of one donor who contributed $500 earlier this year.
Responding to a complaint that the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance improperly solicited funds in February for three special state elections, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance said that, under state law, the door hangers and handbills the group purchased shortly after the Feb. 23 email was sent were electioneering communications. The state panel "strongly suggest[ed]" that the pro-fiscal conservatism group, run by former GOP operatives, should continue to seek state review of its fund solicitations.
"Such submission will ensure future compliance with the campaign finance law," wrote Michael J. Sullivan, the OCPF director.
But the letter, to Mass. Fiscal Alliance executive director Paul Craney, stopped short of calling for the group to divulge the identities of its donors going forward.
"This ruling did not say that moving forward, MassFiscal must disclose all of its donors," OCPF spokesman Jason Tait said Thursday.
Rick Green, chairman of the MassFiscal board, said in an emailed response to the ruling, "I'm always amazed how angry legislators get when we educate constituents on their voting records."
MassFiscal released a statement late Thursday disputing the OCPF's conclusion that it must release the name of its donor. "OCPF's conclusion is not supported by either the facts or the law," the group said.
State Democratic Party executive director Jason Cincotti called the group "a cellophane cover over a Republican ploy to skirt campaign finance laws and promote Governor Baker's conservative agenda."
"They broke the law," Cincotti said in an email. "Now, they have two choices — continue communicating as a political committee and comply with law or stop election communications immediately."