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Delahunt campaign paid rent to family

By Donovan Slack
Globe Staff / October 19, 2011

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WASHINGTON - Four months after US Representative William Delahunt announced that he would retire last year, his campaign moved into a new office in downtown Quincy that it rented for $3,500 per month.

The landlord: Delahunt’s family trust.

Between July 2010 and April 2011, Delahunt’s campaign paid a total of $41,800 in rent to Triplet Irrevocable Trust, which was formed by Delahunt, benefits his daughters and ex-wife, and is overseen by his cousin.

The trust bought the office at 1147 Hancock St. the same month the campaign moved in. The space is now the headquarters of the former congressman’s consulting and lobbying firm, The Delahunt Group.

Before his campaign committee officially shut down in April, it also shelled out $6,000 to remodel the office and $3,000 for “construction services.’’

The last month that the campaign paid rent, the rate tripled, to $10,500, according to campaign finance reports.

Paying campaign funds to entities with links to candidates is permitted under Federal Election Commission rules, specialists said, but the practice raises questions about whether such spending is for legitimate campaign expenses.

“Was this a lame-duck kind of payment? The appearance is such that it’s not clear,’’ said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog. “The best way is for him to provide a clear explanation.’’

A call to Delahunt’s company was referred to his former campaign treasurer, Boston lawyer Thomas Kiley, who said he could not recall the exact reasons for the increased rent payment or the construction. He said all spending was related to legitimate expenses of Delahunt’s campaign.

“Before we made any of these transactions we did our due diligence and checked with the FEC,’’ Kiley said.

He said Delahunt was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

Delahunt represented Massachusetts’ 10th Congressional District for 14 years before retiring in January. He previously served for 22 years as Norfolk County district attorney.

Records filed with the Norfolk Registry of Deeds show Delahunt formed Triplet Irrevocable Trust in 1994, and listed his ex-wife and two daughters as beneficiaries. He tapped as trustee his cousin Robert Delahunt Jr., a lawyer at Boston-based Mintz Levin.

On July 6, 2010, the trust purchased the Quincy office for $215,000, according to deed records.

The Delahunt campaign paid the trust $3,300 in rent for July 2010 and $3,500 per month thereafter, until the rent increased in April 2011.

Delahunt formed his new consulting and lobbying company, The Delahunt Group, in February this year and listed the Quincy office as its headquarters, records show.

The company announced the following month that one of its clients would be the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which has been pushing for the right to build and operate a casino in Southeastern Massachusetts, the region Delahunt represented in Congress.

Donovan Slack can be reached at dslack@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @DonovanSlack.