Former Lt. Gov. Murray fined, McLaughlin indicted in illegal campaign fundraising scheme

Outgoing Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, right, smiles as he talks with a member of the governor's security detail on his final weekday in office in Westfield, Mass., Friday, May 31, 2013. Murray officially leaves office on Sunday after about 6 1/2 years as lieutenant governor. He resigned to accept a position as head of the private Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, right, smiled as he talked with a member of the governor's security detail on his final weekday in office in May in Westfield.
Jessica Hill/AP

Former Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray has agreed to pay $80,000 to settle charges by Attorney General Martha Coakley that he collected $50,000 in illegal campaign contributions raised by two public officials, including former Chelsea Housing Authority executive director Michael E. McLaughlin.

McLaughlin, who has already been sentenced to three years in federal prison for lying to state and federal regulators about his inflated salary, was also indicted today by a state grand jury for several campaign finance violations including unlawful solicitation by a public employee.

McLaughlin collected tens of thousands of dollars in donations for Murray even though as a public official he was legally barred from doing so, according to a statement from Coakley’s office.

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A second official, a supervisor in the Department of Transportation, also solicited donations in the Worcester area between 2008 and 2010, Coakley’s office said. A Department of Transportation spokeswoman said the agency would not release the name of the employee.

“That is just the decision that was made,” said the spokeswoman, Sara Lavoie, when asked why the department would not disclose the employee’s name. She said the department would circulate “reminder guidelines” about fundraising rules for its employees.

In a statement, Murray said he should have been “more vigilant” about who was working on behalf of the committee.

“As I have said from the start, I never asked Michael McLaughlin to solicit funds for my committee, because I know that would have been wrong,” said Murray. “If I knew in 2006 what I know today about Mr. McLaughlin, I would have never had any association with him at all.”

Murray resigned his state post in May, after disclosure of his ties to McLaughlin and a 2011 pre-dawn car crash had dented his political future. He is now serving as the president of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. In January, prior to his resignation, Murray announced he would not run for governor in 2014.

As part of the settlement, Murray’s political committee must pay a $20,000 fine. That account contained over $227,000 as of Aug. 15. Murray must also shell out a $10,000 personal fine. Additionally, Murray will dissolve his political committee and is banned from involvement with a political fundraising committee for two years, Coakley’s office said.

The agreement comes as Coakley herself is eyeing a gubernatorial bid. She has said she will decide soon whether or not to run.