FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) today closed its investigation on State Senator Brian Joyce’s campaign committee finances without finding any wrongdoing in the use or reporting of campaign funds by Senator Joyce.
At all times, the Joyce Committee “made best efforts to comply with all applicable laws.”
The OCPF determined that the Milton Democrat’s reporting errors “were primarily accounting errors and do not appear to affect any misappropriation of funds,” said the watchdog agency that enforces the state’s election laws.
The OCPF further added that the Joyce Committee’s accounting errors “were not part of an intentional effort to misreport expenses but rather reflect inadequate or deficient internal bookkeeping practices.”
The committee was found to have “imprecise” record-keeping and was deceived by a single campaign volunteer who borrowed campaign funds for personal use without the “permission, knowledge or approval” of either Joyce or his committee.
“I feel strongly about election law compliance and my committee will go above and beyond to make sure everyone associated with the campaign adheres to the letter and the spirit of the law,” said Joyce.
He continued, “I commend the skill of the OCPF’s dedicated and professional staff who made us aware of our own honest mistakes and then recommended fair and common sense ways to keep us from repeating those mistakes in the future.”
To ensure full transparency of its financial activity, the Joyce Committee voluntarily hired an outside compliance firm to act as the committee’s treasurer. This is in accordance with the terms of a voluntary agreement negotiated between the Joyce Committee and the OCPF to tighten past bookkeeping practices that produced discrepancies between the campaign’s bank account balance and the amount of campaign funds being reported to the OCPF.
These discrepancies were caused in part when Joyce or other campaign staff paid for campaign-related expenses out of their own pocket and then sought reimbursements from a campaign committee that lacked adequate documentation or accounting procedures. The committee’s relatively informal way of covering campaign expenses “produced confusion in how receipts and expenses were accounted for and reported by the Senator’s political committee,” the OCPF reported.
In the future, Joyce will pay for lawn signs, bumper stickers, printing and other campaign expenses by making a contribution to his election committee instead of writing a check to vendors so that his committee can properly encumber the expense, as the OCPF has recommended.
Another weakness in the committee’s financial safeguards became apparent last year when a campaign volunteer used the committee’s ATM debit card on numerous occasions to borrow nearly $5,000 for personal expenses without the committee’s knowledge or consent.
When Senator Joyce became aware of the unauthorized withdrawals he immediately informed the OCPF, as the agency acknowledges. The funds were paid back by the volunteer, who is no longer affiliated with Joyce’s campaign committee, and new safeguards have been put in place by the committee to prevent further unsanctioned withdrawals in the future.
A final issue looked into by the OCPF without a finding or allegation of wrongdoing involved the use of campaign funds for a dual-purpose event Senator Joyce hosted two years ago.
Relying on a past OCPF ruling that it would partially qualify as a campaign event, and confirmed by the opinion of a former legal counsel to the Massachusetts House of Representatives that this was an acceptable expenditure, Joyce combined $3,367 in campaign funds with the $1,800 he spent personally to host a combination graduation party for his son with a political “friend-raiser” event.
Senator Joyce invited several hundred people to his home for this event, as he had done for other events, which he viewed as an opportunity to broaden his political base at a time when he was expecting to join the leadership (which he later did). Senator Joyce believed that a portion of the costs would “enhance his political future” as set forth by law.
To close the matter without an admission of liability, responsibility or wrongdoing by either Senator Joyce or his committee, Joyce voluntarily donated to The Massachusetts Hospital School an amount equal to the $3,367 his committee spent on the party. He also personally donated an additional $1,250 to charities within his district.
“We are greatly appreciative of OCPF’s efforts to assist us in improving the Committee’s recordkeeping and for calling attention to these issues,” noted Senator Joyce. “We have already undertaken timely and substantial steps to address each issue raised in this report,” he added.