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Coakley admits to federal filing error

She incorrectly reported her assets

It was nonetheless a somewhat embarrassing omission for a perceived front-runner. It was nonetheless a somewhat embarrassing omission for a perceived front-runner.
By Matt Viser
Globe Staff / November 13, 2009

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Attorney General Martha Coakley, the state’s top lawyer, acknowledged yesterday that she improperly filled out a federal financial disclosure she submitted to the US Senate as part of her candidacy in the special election.

The Globe reported yesterday that Coakley was the only candidate, in disclosures due to the Senate by this week, to report that neither she nor her spouse had any reportable financial asset worth more than $1,000.

But her campaign said Coakley failed to list $200,000 to $250,000 in financial assets that are held by her husband, Thomas F. O’Connor Jr. The campaign said Coakley also failed to note a retirement account she holds that is worth $12,000.

“It was a mistake,’’ said Alex Zaroulis, a campaign spokeswoman. “Clearly we are working to amend the financial disclosure forms to include those accounts, and we’re going to do it as quickly as possible.’’

O’Connor’s assets are from his savings account and from an inheritance he was given when his father passed away several years ago, Zaroulis said. She said she could not detail how much was in each asset.

Zaroulis attributed the mistake to a discrepancy between what Coakley has had to report to the state as a candidate in Massachusetts and the more in-depth information required of federal candidates. It was nonetheless a somewhat embarrassing omission for a perceived front-runner who oversees the state’s legal affairs.

Although Coakley will now report $12,000 from a retirement account, Zaroulis said she still does not have other additional income to report aside from her husband’s assets, which are in his name alone.

Coakley and her husband own a home in Medford, but primary residences do not have to be disclosed on the US Senate forms.

It is not the first time Coakley has had her filings for political office scrutinized. The Massachusetts Republican Party recently challenged her use of her state campaign account to the Federal Election Commission; the party alleges she has relied on it for federal campaign activity, which would be impermissible.

Senate guidelines require candidates to report a banking account that had, in aggregate, more than $5,000, or generated more than $200 in interest during the reporting period, which in this case is the past 21 months. Coakley, in her initial five-page filing, indicated she did not have that much money.

Coakley listed only her salary, which for last year was $135,179. She also listed a $3,950 salary from the Boston University School of Law, for being an adjunct professor. Her husband was listed as earning a salary of more than $1,000 at Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, in addition to earning a pension of more than $1,000 from the City of Cambridge.

Even with Coakley’s amended disclosure, her assets are still far less valuable than her opponents’, according to a review of each candidate’s filing.

Stephen Pagliuca, who made a fortune in private equity, listed assets worth $259 million to $765 million. City Year cofounder Alan Khazei listed assets between $347,000 and $1.1 million. State Senator Scott P. Brown, the leading Republican in the race, reported assets of $1.1 million to $2.7 million.

US Representative Michael E. Capuano filed financial disclosure forms as a member of the House that detailed his finances for 2008 and is not required to file a new form, according to Senate ethics rules.

According to his 2008 filing, the value of his assets was $1.4 million to $3.1 million, and the amount of income from those assets was between $28,918 and $91,500. One of the biggest chunks of Capuano’s income came from rent on three properties, two in Somerville and one in Tuftonboro, N.H.

Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.