A near disclosure
UPDATE: An official at the U.S. Senate Office of Records said the financial disclosure form form Stephen Pagliuca arrived in the office on Tuesday, one week after the extension Pagliuca's campaign had already received. That means all candidates but Jack E. Robinson have submitted the mandated disclosures.
Pagliuca campaign spokesman Will Keyser said the form was sent by mail and should have been postmarked before the due date but did not know why there was such a lapse. The official at the public records office said she could only go by the time stamp on the form, which showed Nov. 17.
Even though the form is now a public record, getting it is a bit harder. The records office does not post the disclosures online. Anyone wanting a copy must submit a written request to the office along with a check to pay for copying fees at 20 cents a page. Keyser said any reporter could come by the campaign office to view their copy on file but declined to release a copy to CommonWealth until it was public.
Pagliuca has yet to submit his disclosure form with the records office despite getting an extension to November 9. It appears the only place he’s filed it so far is with The Boston Globe.
Pagliuca, the race’s wealthiest candidate with reported assets between $229 million and $756 million, and Republican candidate Jack E. Robinson are the only two of the six contenders for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s seat to not file their disclosures. Federal statute requires candidates to file within 30 days of their nomination for the office or within 30 days of when they formally become a candidate.
Attorney General Martha Coakley filed her disclosure, albeit with some omissions, on October 7, while City Year founder Alan Khazei and GOP state Sen. Scott Brown filed theirs on October 16. U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano was not required to file one with the Senate because he filed a disclosure in the House as required by law.
Pagliuca, whose campaign did not return a call for comment, formally announced his candidacy on September 17, meaning he was required to file around the same time as Brown and Khazei. Robinson did not formally announce his candidacy until he filed his signatures in mid-October, meaning his deadline is just now approaching.
“I think that’s a pretty big deal,” Coakley’s spokeswoman Alex Zaroulis says. “When somebody has north of $400 million to spend on a race and has spent $5 million on advertising so far. . . I think it’s worthwhile for voters to know he hasn’t filed these forms.”
An official with the records office, who would not give her name for attribution, did not know when Pagliuca received his extension but said that as of Friday afternoon, the office still did not have the form. She declined to say if the Boston Celtics owner faced any penalty for the late filing.
The disclosure requirements are bringing some unwelcome spotlight to the race’s frontrunner as well. Coakley’s admission that she omitted required information on her federal financial disclosure may also force her to amend her Statement of Financial Interest (SFI) with the state.
But Coakley’s mistake once more highlights the gaps in Massachusetts ethics laws that require only cursory financial disclosure by public officials and that also limits what they have to reveal of their or their family’s assets. The most recent issue of CommonWealth magazine focused on the paucity of information required of state and county officials despite the chest-thumping by state leaders that Massachusetts is on the front line of ethics disclosures.
Zaroulis attributed the error to the difference between the state disclosure requirements and what is mandated at the federal level. But Coakley may have erred here as well.
In her federal form, Coakley, who is leading the race according to most polls, lists her husband’s pension from the Cambridge Police Department but also states he works as a consultant for Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, earning more than $1,000, the minimum reporting requirement at the federal level. But that job is not listed on Coakley’s SFI filed with the State Ethics Commission, and it is hard to see how it would be exempt from disclosure.
Deirdre Roney, general counsel for the ethics commission, would not comment on a specific case but said the definition of what constitutes a business and an employee are fairly broad. The question on the form that deals with outside income requires filers to identify any business they or immediate family members were associated with in 2008 as “an employee, or as a partner, proprietor, officer or director, or in any similar managerial capacity, full or part-time, compensated or uncompensated.”
“If somebody falls within those definitions it ought to be reported,” says Roney.
Coakley lists only her job as an adjunct professor at Boston University School of Law, where she earned $1,000 to $5,000. But the other missing items on her federal form also do not appear on the state disclosure and there is no requirement to list them.
Coakley’s amended federal filing will show some $250,000 that her husband, Thomas F. O’Connor, has in savings and other accounts from money he inherited from his father. The revised report will also show $12,000 that Coakley has in a retirement account.
But the way those funds are held and their origin do not require they be reported in Massachusetts.Few public officials report extensive holdings, but it's hard to say it's because they do not list them (for whatever reason) or because they simply don't have many securities and investments. In our new project called Full Disclosure, we have posted the SFIs of more than 300 elected and appointed state and county officials.
Scroll through those and it becomes quickly apparent that Coakley's state form is more the norm than exception when it comes to assets.