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December 09, 2023 Clouds | 52°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 3: Director of campaign and political finance; selection; term; powers and duties; judicial review of decisions; procedure for violations; penalties; disclosure of fund transfers

Section 3. The state chairman of each of the two leading political parties, the state secretary, and a dean of a law school located in the commonwealth, to be appointed by the governor as provided hereinafter, shall serve as a commission for the purposes of selecting the director of campaign and political finance. The term of the dean of a law school shall be six years but shall expire if he should cease to act as dean; a successor shall be appointed within thirty days after the occurrence of a vacancy in said office. The state secretary shall act as chairman of said commission. Meetings of the commission may be called by the state secretary or by any two other members.

Selection of the director, who shall be a resident of the commonwealth, shall be by unanimous vote of the members of the commission. The commission shall select a successor director no later than thirty days prior to the expiration date of the term of the director and no later than sixty days after the occurrence of a vacancy in said office; provided, however, in the event that a vacancy shall exist in the office of director for ten days beginning with the date of the primary election at which a candidate for any statewide office is nominated and ending one hundred and twenty days after the election, the chairman of the commission shall appoint a director pro tem, who shall serve until a successor director is appointed in accordance with the provisions hereof. An incumbent director may be selected for a succeeding term or terms.

The director shall serve for a term of six years and, unless removed, until his successor has been selected and has assumed the office. He may not be removed from office except upon an affirmative vote of all of the members of the commission then serving. Removal of the director shall be at the discretion of the commission, and shall not be reviewable.

The director shall devote full time to his duties during normal business hours. Subject to appropriation, he shall receive a salary to be determined from time to time by a majority of the members present and voting at a duly-called meeting of the commission, a quorum being present. He shall not, during the term he serves as director, engage in any political activities of any nature, nor shall he hold any other public office; provided, however, that he shall be free to advise and consult with legislative committees, the members of the general court and other persons affected by the laws under his jurisdiction, and to advocate and sponsor legislation.

The director shall appoint such employees as the work of the office may require. The director shall establish the salaries, duties, and personnel regulations of all employees as he deems necessary to perform the duties of the office, provided however, the salaries of such employees shall not exceed the sum annually appropriated by the general court. The provisions of sections nine A and forty-five of chapter 30 and of chapter 31 shall not apply to the employees of the office.

The director shall make available to investigative, accounting and law enforcement agencies of the commonwealth all information necessary or advisable to fulfill their duties, with respect to this chapter. He shall, from time to time as he deems necessary or advisable, issue rules and regulations in conformity with the provisions of this chapter and chapter thirty A, and shall also issue interpretative bulletins and respond with reasonable promptness to requests for information, interpretations and advice presented by candidates, state committees, political committees and members of the public.

All acts, decisions and rulings of the director shall be subject to judicial review under the provisions of chapter thirty A upon the application of any interested person.

The director shall inspect all statements and reports of candidates, or nonelected political committees supporting such candidates, filed with him, within thirty days of the reporting dates required by this chapter, and all other statements and reports within sixty days of the reporting dates required by this chapter. If upon examination of the records it appears that any candidate or political committee has failed to file a statement or report as required by law, or if it appears to the director that any such statement or report filed with him does not conform to law, or upon written complaint by five registered voters that a statement or report does not conform to law, or that any candidate or political committee has failed to file a statement or report required by law, the director shall, in writing, notify the delinquent person. Such complaint shall state in detail the grounds of objection, shall be sworn to by one of the subscribers, and shall be filed with the director within ten days after the required date for filing a statement or report, or within ten days after the actual filing of a statement or report, or an amended statement or report. Upon failure to file a statement or report within ten days after receiving notice under this section or if any statement filed after receiving such notice discloses any violation of any provisions of this chapter, the director shall notify the attorney general thereof and shall furnish him with copies of all papers relating thereto, and the attorney general, within two months thereafter, shall examine every such case, and if satisfied that there is cause, he shall in the name of the commonwealth institute appropriate civil proceedings or refer the case to the proper district attorney for such action as may be appropriate in the criminal courts. The name of a candidate who is required to file campaign finance reports with the director, and who fails to file any statement or report after the initiation of civil proceedings under this section to compel the filing, shall not be printed on any municipal preliminary, state primary or general or special election ballot unless the statement or report is timely filed pursuant to chapter 53 or any charter or special law establishing the filing deadline. The director shall notify the state secretary or, for municipal candidates, the registrars of the city or town, of the names of those candidates against whom civil proceedings for failure to timely file have been initiated and shall do so within 72 hours of the filing deadline for nomination papers for the candidate. Any candidate who is disqualified from appearing on any municipal preliminary, state primary or general or special election ballot as set forth above shall be ineligible to be nominated or elected as a write-in or sticker candidate unless the candidate shall have filed the statements or reports which are the subject of the civil litigation by the date of the municipal preliminary, state primary or general or special election in which the candidate is seeking nomination or election. If civil proceedings are initiated against a state or county candidate for failure to timely file the campaign finance report or statement and the candidate files the report or statement before the primary, the director shall notify the state secretary not later than 24 hours after the date of the primary. If civil proceedings are initiated against a municipal candidate who is required to file with the director and the candidate files the campaign finance report or statement prior to the preliminary or, if no preliminary is held, prior to the date the preliminary for the office sought would have been held, the director shall notify the registrars not later than 24 hours after the date of the preliminary or the date the preliminary would have been held.

The director shall have the power and authority to investigate the legality, validity, completeness and accuracy of all reports and actions required to be filed and taken by candidates, treasurers, political committees, and any other person pursuant to this chapter and any other laws of the commonwealth pertaining to campaign contributions and expenditures. He may require, by summons, the attendance and testimony under oath of witnesses and the production before him of books and papers relating to any matter being investigated by him. Such summons shall be served in the same manner as summonses for witnesses in criminal cases issued on behalf of the commonwealth and all provisions of law relative to summonses issued in such cases shall apply to summonses issued under this section so far as applicable. Any justice of the supreme judicial court or of the superior court may upon application by the director compel the attendance of witnesses summoned as aforesaid and the giving of testimony under oath before said director in furtherance of any investigation in the same manner and to the same extent as before said courts.

The director shall establish rules of procedure governing the conduct of his hearings and investigations which shall be made available in printed form to each witness prior to his testimony. Witnesses shall have the right to be represented by counsel and shall before testifying be sworn. Witnesses shall testify only at private hearings and the same provisions with reference to secrecy which govern proceedings of a grand jury shall govern all proceedings before the director. Violations of such provisions with regard to secrecy shall be punished by a fine of up to one thousand dollars and imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. Upon conviction for any such violation said director shall be removed and the office of director deemed vacant.

The director shall inform any person or committee under investigation by said director by registered mail, return receipt requested, by personal delivery, by leaving a copy of the notice at the person's last and usual place of residence or by delivering a copy of the notice to an attorney who has appeared on behalf of the alleged violator, of his intention to present to the attorney general evidence of any alleged violation of this chapter. Within ten days of receipt of said notice said alleged violator may request a hearing before the director for the purpose of presenting evidence to the contrary. Said director shall not present evidence of any such alleged violation to the attorney general until after said hearing. Evidence of any such violation of this chapter which has come to the director's attention shall be presented by the director to the attorney general not later than 120 days before or 3 years after the relevant election or, if the evidence does not relate to an identifiable election, not later than 3 years after the violation.

The director shall assess a civil penalty for any report, statement or affidavit required to be filed with him, or with any city or town clerk upon written notice to him from such clerk, pursuant to the provisions of this chapter which is filed later than the prescribed date. Said civil penalty shall be in the amount of $25 per day; provided, however, that the maximum penalty the director may assess shall be no greater than $5,000 for any one report, statement or affidavit which is filed later than the prescribed date. The director may waive all or part of any civil penalty for good cause; provided, however, that such finding and the reasons therefor are in writing. In the case of failure to file by a candidate or a candidate's committee, the civil penalty shall be assessed against the candidate; and in all other instances, the civil penalty shall be assessed against the treasurer of the political committee or other person or persons required to file such report, statement or affidavit.

The director shall not disclose publicly any correspondence or communication to a candidate, political committee, or ballot question committee which contains a deadline for response until the deadline has passed or until the director has received a response, whichever is earlier. Notwithstanding the forgoing notices of future filing requirements and notices of failure to file, a required report shall be a public record when issued.

The director shall adopt regulations regarding electioneering communication expenditures and independent expenditures that involve the disclosure of any transfers of money or anything of value from 1 individual, group, association, corporation, labor union or other entity to another individual, group, association, corporation, labor union or other entity to make an electioneering communication expenditure or independent expenditure to ensure that the origin of the funds used to make the expenditure is disclosed in the manner and on the schedule for reports of the expenditures provided for in this chapter.