Pa. firm may be part of Winn probe
Taylor Consulting helps Boston companies cut utility bills
The Pennsylvania-based administrator of a program that helps Boston businesses lower their gas and electric utility bills appears to be one of three conduits through which a Boston development executive funneled illegal campaign donations to Bay State politicians.
On Monday, the US Attorney’s office alleged Martin Raffol, an executive with the WinnCompanies, had illegally steered $12,000 to US Reps. Steven Lynch, William Delahunt, Barney Frank and Michael Capuano. Federal prosecutors also said Raffol contributed another $32,000 in illicit campaign donations to various state and local candidates.
In a public filing, prosecutors alleged Raffol pressured three unidentified Winn vendors to contribute to politicians who could advance Winn’s business interests on the federal, state and local levels; Raffol then reimbursed those vendors for their contributions through falsely inflated contracts, prosecutors said.
All campaign donations to federal, state, and municipal candidates are maintained in public databases. The only energy contractor whose donations match those outlined by the US Attorney’s office is Taylor Consulting & Contracting, a utility contractor based near Scranton, Pennsylvania.
In 2008, Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development tapped Taylor to head Boston Buying Power, a bulk-utility purchasing program for the city’s small businesses. The program currently manages utility contracts for 1,300 Boston-based businesses, a DND spokeswoman said. The spokeswoman said the program has saved the businesses more than $2 million and no public funds have been used.
Data from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance shows $4,000 in donations from Taylor’s chief operating officer, Scott Stiner, to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Boston City Councilor Stephen Murphy, State Sens. Brian Joyce and Dianne Wilkerson, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, and state treasurer candidate Steven Grossman. The Federal Election Commission’s database lists a $1,000 donation from Stiner to Lynch on May 15, 2008.
FEC data shows an additional $3,400 in donations to Lynch, Frank, and Capuano.
Why the $3,400 in contributions to Lynch, Frank, and Capuano were not included in the federal filing is unclear, but legal observers said investigators may not have established a paper trail for Winn reimbursements to the company for those donations.
Federal officials have said Lynch, Frank, Capuano, and Delahunt are not targets of the investigation, which began with allegations of corruption against Wilkerson.
Taylor may be based in Pennsylvania, but the bulk of its campaign finance activity has centered on the Bay State. Of $8,050 in federal contributions Taylor employees have made since 2008, just $750 went to candidates in the firm’s home state; the rest went to Capuano, Frank and Lynch. Neither Stiner nor any other Taylor employee has given to statewide candidates in Pennsylvania, that state’s campaign finance records show.
The federal complaint said Raffol reimbursed the energy services company by inflating fees paid to it by publicly-subsidized housing communities that Winn managed. The complaint said Winn managed publicly-subsidized housing communities in Dorchester and Roxbury.
Alan Eisner, a Winn spokesman, said Winn “will not be renewing any contracts with any vendor cited in the US Attorney’s investigation.”
The Boston Globe reported today that Michael A. Travers, who operates Nightingale Construction Co. in Weymouth, may be one of the other Winn vendors who participated in the illegal campaign contribution scheme.
Federal prosecutors brought forth the allegations in an informational filing, indicating that their investigation is ongoing. Eisner said no other Winn employees are targets of the investigation.Taylor’s involvement with the burgeoning Winn scandal could shine unwanted attention on City Hall, which has attempted to distance itself from Wilkerson, a one-time political ally.
The former state senator’s indictment detailed recorded conversations in which Wilkerson bragged of cracking knees, twisting arms, and “beating people up” to steer a city liquor license to an FBI cooperating witness, who was plying Wilkerson with cash payments. Secret FBI recordings captured Wilkerson saying she had been “calling in chits with the mayor,” and that a mayoral aide was helping her obtain a license for the cooperating witness. That aide was later identified as Michael Kineavy, one of Menino’s top operatives.