Attorney general files lawsuit against state senator
By Glen Johnson, AP Political Writer | September 28, 2005
BOSTON --The attorney general and the head of the state's campaign finance office filed a lawsuit Wednesday against , alleging she had not reported nearly $27,000 in donations and refused to explain more than $18,000 in personal reimbursements.
The civil suit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges the Boston Democrat and her former campaign treasurer, Ajibola Osinubi, violated state campaign finance laws in seven ways from 2000 to 2001 after Wilkerson settled with both offices for similar offenses in 1998.
Among them were:
--$26,935 in contributions deposited in her campaign account but never reported to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
--$13,503 in expenditures by the committee never or under-reported to the agency.
--$20,264 in reimbursements, including $18,277 in reimbursements to the senator herself, for which Wilkerson has been unable to link to a legitimate campaign-related purpose. In one case, her campaign reported a $200 reimbursement but her committee wrote her a check for $2,000. "These violations suggest that these reimbursements may have been for personal use," the complaint states.
--$15,550 in so-called consulting fees to four people, including Wilkerson's sons Cornell and Kendall Mills, for which the senator has been unable to link to a legitimate campaign-related purpose.
--$3,200 in contributions from six political action committees --including one from the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association -- that were not reported to the OCPF. Wilkerson was asked in June 2001 to report the donations yet failed to do so despite seven additional letters repeating the request.
--$550 in illegal contributions from coporations, as well as an illegal $250 donation from a federal political action committee.
Wilkerson, an attorney from Roxbury and vice chairman of the Senate Financial Services Committee, was previously sentenced to house arrest in December 1997 after pleading guilty for failing to pay $51,000 in federal income taxes in the early 1990s.
In 2001, she also was fined $1,000 by the State Ethics Commission for failing to properly report that a bank she lobbied for as senator was paying her more than $20,000 a year as a consultant.
"We are confident that the outstanding matters will be fully resolved with complete and sufficient documentation," the senator said in a statement. "Most of the requested documentation listed in the complaint has already been submitted to the attorney general. We look forward to resolving this matter expeditiously."
Senate President Robert Travaglini, D-Boston, had no immediate comment on the lawsuit, while the Massachusetts Democratic Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Attorney General Tom Reilly and Michael Sullivan, director of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, said in a joint statement that Wilkerson was notified of the alleged discrepancies in August 2002 but chose not to explain them.
The statement said the senator was "unable or unwilling to provide such information" when contacted anew by Reilly's office. The lawsuit itself said negotiations continued until August, at which time Wilkerson declared "we have discovered a very large leather satchel of documents ... left by Ajibola Osinubi, all related to the year 2000."
Wilkerson, however, failed to produce the documents, despite a written request from the attorney general, the lawsuit says.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Reilly said: "It is unfortunate that Sen. Wilkerson allowed this situation to reach this point, but I am committed to do what is necessary to make sure that our campaign finance laws are enforced."
The seven-count complaint seeks a court order requiring Wilkerson to amend her 2000 and 2001 campaign finance reports, to the pay the state for "all contributions for which she is unable to properly disclose the contributor," as well as to pay for all unexplained expenditures and for civil penalties and investigative costs.
In 1998, Wilkerson entered into an agreement with the OCPF and attorney general to resolve similar allegations of unexplained expenditures and undisclosed political action committee contributions.
She and her committee agreed to pay back all unaccounted expenditures and to pay civil penalties totaling $11,500.
In their lawsuit, Reilly and Sullivan cite the prior settlement and subsequent problems before stating: "Wilkerson and the committee's continued and repeated violations of (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter) 55 as alleged herein ... indicate that Wilkerson and the committee will continue to violate G.L. c. 55 unless permanently enjoined from doing so."