Politicians’ campaign finance lawsuit is secret
Ryan and Stephanie Fattman are suing OCPF
TWO MASSACHUSETTS POLITICIANS are going to court to challenge an action by the head of the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Yet despite a case that seems almost by definition to be a matter of public interest, the proceedings, so far, have been secret.
WBUR first reported on the lawsuit filed last week in Suffolk Superior Court by Webster Republican Ryan Fattman, who is the Senate assistant minority leader; his wife Stephanie Fattman, who is the Worcester County register of probate; and others against Michael Sullivan, the director of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
The lawsuit seeks judicial review of an unspecified action taken by Sullivan and OCPF. A motion by the Fattmans and other plaintiffs to impound their complaint states that investigations by OCPF into campaign finance violations are confidential, and impounding the complaint protects that confidentiality.
WBUR and its deputy managing editor, Todd Wallack, represented by attorney Jeffrey Pyle, filed a motion asking the court to open up the documents and a related hearing. “WBUR and the public have a strong interest in access to the hearing because this case appears to involve potential campaign finance issues involving prominent political figures,” Pyle writes.
Judge Christine Roach will hold a hearing Friday on whether to permanently impound the documents.
In addition to Ryan and Stephanie Fattman and each of their political committees, the plaintiffs include the Sutton Republican Town Committee and its treasurer, Robert Kneeland, and two other Fattman family members – Anthony Fattman and Donald Fattman.
It is not clear what OCPF was investigating. The Sutton Republican Town Committee has been heavily involved with both Ryan and Stephanie Fattman’s campaigns, according to campaign finance reports.Ryan Fattman’s campaign committee donated $25,000 to the Sutton Republican Town Committee in August 2020.
The Sutton Republican Town Committee supported both Ryan and Stephanie Fattman in their 2020 campaigns. Stephanie Fattman reported that the town committee spent $35,000 that year to help her campaign through canvassing, a database, and phone calls, in addition to directly donating $500. The Town Committee helped Ryan Fattman with canvassing, calls, and sign placement in 2020, worth around $3,500, according to his financial disclosures.