False use of Mass. governor's endorsement leads to civil penalty

Nick Rees Nov. 26, 2008, 5:26am

Martha Coakley (D)

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) -- A campaign advertisement that falsely claimed the Massachusetts governor's endorsement of a candidate has lead to a civil penalty and stringent control of campaign materials for Governor's Councilor Kelly Timilty.

The Timilty campaign committee will pay an $8,000 civil penalty following an agreement with the state's attorney general after creating a mailing a campaign advertisement that included an alleged recommendation by the Gov. Deval Patrick.

"Please Vote for Kelly Timilty for Governor's Council on September 16th," the flier read, and included a reproduction of Governor Patrick's signature. The flier also featured a photo of the governor and Councilor Timilty.

The campaign, however, did not obtain approval from neither the governor nor or his representatives to use his endorsement, signature or any text, violating the law requiring express consent from the endorsing party.

"Our state election laws exist to guarantee the integrity of the democratic process," Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat, said. "When a campaign claims to have an endorsement without having the express consent of the alleged endorser, the campaign violates the law and creates a risk of misleading voters. We appreciate the cooperation of Councilor Timilty and her campaign committee to accept responsibility for this matter and address it in a productive way."

The $8,000 civil penalty is eight times the maximum financial penalty that could be imposed following a criminal conviction of falsely claiming an endorsement.

Councilor Timilty, as part of the agreement, will establish a written protocol for obtain any endorser's express consent in writing for the next four years.

The protocol must then be filed with the attorney general's office and the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Additionally, a company or person who designs, prints or publishes Timilty committee campaign documents must be issued a copy of the protocol.

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