Evidence of illegal campaign donations was received by Boston Thornton law firm, a case was dismissed anyway

Now, the group has filed the complaint against Thornton, the Law Center of the Campaign, considering the question to follow in federal court.

“Another example is that the FEC fails to enforce the laws responsible for administration,” said Brendan Fischer, director of the centre's Federal Reform Program.

“The evidence set out in our complaint provided compelling reasons for the agency to proceed formally with the issue and FEC staff solicitors agreed. Despite the fact that the FEC's professional staff solicitors recommended that they continue to do this, the ideological divide from commissioners prevented it from going further. ”

It is expected that the two Republican commissioners will vote against a full-scale investigation of a statement explaining his vote.

Thornton Law issued a statement stating that the case has been closed: “Having co-operated fully with the Vocational Education Committee for over 2½ years, we are grateful for the commission voting.” T

The Globe and the Washington, the Center for Responsible Politics, based in Donegal showed Thornton's internal bonus system in October 2016, noting that top checkers at the firm often received “bonus” checks that match their donations. directly. This recommended that the firm pay an arrangement that the donations are not infringed by the law, other than the individual lawyers.

The chair of the FEC, Democracy, together with a second commissioner on Independent, voted to proceed with a wider investigation, but the Republicans blocked them. Ironically, Thornton Law, led by former assistant leader of Garrett Bradley's majority House, presented exclusively to the Democrats. The campaign's financial experts said that the Republicans were working to weaken the authority of the Committee.

The commission has six seats, but two are empty. There are four yes votes needed to pursue cases. The President nominates the Commissioners for six years and is confirmed by the Seanad.

FEC chairman Ellen L. Weintraub asked, “sadly, one of the cases where the commission was unable to enforce the laws because of a split vote, on the objections made by our barrister. general.

“In all cases, whether the Democrats or Republicans are subject to the complaint, the Democrats want to enforce the law and the Republicans do not. It is an ideological opposition to law enforcement, ”she told the Globe.

She said that the Campaign Law Center can invoke the agency and ask a judge to get the decision contrary to the law. However, she said, “I don't think it is a good case when we have to rely on private citizens to take legal action to enforce the law. I'm not really happy about it. ”

Once the Earth's story was published, politicians began to subscribe from Thornton Law. Hillary Clinton, Senator Ed Markey, Joseph Kennedy III Representative, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, returned all their donations or made available the same amount to charity or US Treasury.

Shortly afterwards, the Campaign Law Center put its complaint against Thornton.

Vocational Education Committee lawyers found that Thornton's lawyers – and the law firm themselves – were in breach of the law by concealing the true source of donations. By collecting donations from candidates from a number of partners at a time, the firm significantly exceeded the financial limits of the campaign.

For example, FEC lawyers, Michael Thornton, his wife, Amy, David Strouss, and Bradley received a total of $ 18,100 for Kennedy – $ 12,900 more than the legal limit if the body had donated to themselves.

In addition, individual lawyers infringed the law because they had given their names to donations that had come from the firm in fact.

The solicitors for Thornton Law claimed that the legal donations were due to the bonuses from each partner's “capital” account, made up of their own equity in the firm.

But FEC lawyers disputed the argument, saying that the partners' money was not to be used freely in the capital accounts and the facts suggested that a “bonus” label on the refunded donations “accepted the payments as additional compensation drawn from partnership accounts. ”And not their own accounts.

Thornton Law is also a party in a long-standing dispute over the alleged overfilling of the firm and two others, as well as the alleged misconduct by Bradley.

A special master last May found that Thornton and two out-state firms, Labaton Sucharow from New York and Lieff Cabraser of San Francisco, inflicted bills to a federal judge to justify attorney fees of $ 75 million in a class activity arrangement. State Street Bank in Boston.

US District Judge Mark L. Wolf ordered the investigation following a Globe report about stratospheric law bills filed in the case, including more than $ 200,000 for brother Bradley, a criminal defense lawyer in Quincy. .

The special master, the retired retired judge, Gerald Rosen, recommended that the three legal firms be required to repay more than $ 10 million to clients and he called for special sanctions for Thornton because Bradley filed statements “false”. falsely ”in court.

Lawyers said that Rosen's results were “full of factual and legal mistakes” and that they expressed objections to Wolf, who has not yet ruled on the special master's recommendations even though he had all the filings for months.

At state level, the Massachusetts Political and Campaigns Office previously decided that Thornton could infringe electoral laws through the source of $ 175,000 in subscriptions to state and local candidates. However, the Attorney General Maura Healey referred the case to the Essex District Attorney General Jonathan Blodgett, who did not find “sufficient evidence” that a crime had been committed.

If the Campaign Law Center appeals an FEC decision, a judge may order the agency to reopen the case.


Andrea Estes can be found at andrea.estes@globe.com.

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