A former top Beacon Hill Democrat has made a $48,000 payment to the state’s general fund as part of an agreement with regulators to resolve campaign finance issues including a failure to disclose roughly $175,000 in credit card expenditures made by his committee.
Richard Moore, who served as Senate president pro tempore when he lost his seat to Republican challenger Ryan Fattman in 2014, forfeited a total of $90,000 in the settlement, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance announced Wednesday. He had served in the Senate since 1996 and in the House from 1977 to 1994.
OCPF said Moore’s campaign rung up $181,942 on five credit cards from 2008 to 2015, but disclosed only $7,253 of that in campaign finance reports.
To resolve the matter, he made a personal payment of $48,082 to the general fund and disgorged the $477 balance of his campaign account, OCPF said, along with forgiving $41,440 in outstanding personal loans he made to his campaign. Moore, of Uxbridge, also agreed to dissolve his campaign account and not run for office again in Massachusetts without first consulting OCPF.
The disposition agreement — signed July 9 by Moore, his treasurer and spouse Joanne Moore, and Sullivan — resolves OCPF’s findings that Moore failed to accurately disclose campaign finance activity, failed to keep detailed records, used committee funds for personal expenses, improperly used credit cards for committee and personal spending, and filed false reports.
Moore wrote in the agreement that he accepts responsibility for filing false reports, saying that he had “placed greater concern on filing reports on time and providing accurate information regarding the source of receipts from donors.” He said his understanding of campaign finance law at the time was that it was “primarily intended to provide the public with the source of financial support for the campaign.”
”No doubt I’ve made mistakes in votes cast or positions taken over a long career, however, I can only hope that the errors of omission identified in this Agreement will be viewed in context of an otherwise positive record of stewardship and service guided by what I understood to be in the best interests of those who I’ve been honored to serve and the Commonwealth as a whole,” he said in the agreement.
OCPF director Michael Sullivan said the case “vividly illustrates” a problem with the system legislative candidates use to disclose campaign finance activity, and that legislative candidates “would be far better served” if they used the depository system used by statewide candidates.
The depository system, according to OCPF, combines reporting by the candidate with independent, regular disclosure of activity by the candidate’s bank.
”If the Moore Committee had been required to disclose its activity through the depository system, the non-disclosure of the Moore Committee’s expenditures would never have occurred and their reports would have been accurate,” Sullivan said in a statement.
Moore, who is also a former president of the Massachusetts Assisted Living Association, also backed a move to a depository system.
In the disposition agreement, both Richard and Joanne Moore “assert that there was never any intention to fail to disclose any campaign finance activity.” They say that reporting “became more complicated” when the credit card provider Advanta “abruptly discontinued providing credit” to 1 million accounts in 2009, creating “a significant bookkeeping chore” that grew over time.
”In view of this stressful development, the Candidate, Treasurer and Committee believe that campaign reporting for future legislative races could be more manageable if Senate Bill No. 399 requiring depository accounts for legislative candidates became the law,” they wrote. “Had such a process been in place in 2008, the problem now facing us would not have occurred since we wanted to comply with campaign finance law and regulations. This is not meant to excuse the failure to provide full and accurate disclosure of expenditures, but such a system would likely have caught the oversight in reporting much earlier in the process and resulted in a prompt resolution.”
The bill the Moores referenced was filed by Sen. Diana DiZogilio of Methuen and cosponsored by Sens. Patrick O’Connor of Weymouth, Edward Kennedy of Lowell, and Michael Barrett of Lexington and Rep. Michael Soter of Bellingham. It had a May 15 hearing before the Election Laws Committee.