Business owner, company, paid $150K for Covering Up Illegal Campaign Contributions

J. Derenzo Companies, a Brockton-based construction business, and its owner, David Howe, made a $125,000 payment to the state’s general fund to resolve campaign finance issues, according to a disposition agreement between the Massachusetts Office if Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) and Howe.

Howe also made a $25,000 contribution to a charity of his choice with his personal funds, as part of the agreement with OCPF.

According to the agreement, J. Derenzo Companies provided at least $37,000 to employees and their family members to reimburse them for contributions they made to nine designated candidates and committees – Gov. Charles Baker, Sen. Michael Brady, former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, former Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, former Gov. Deval Patrick, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Attorney General candidate Warren Tolman, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the Democratic State Committee.

The contributions were reported by the candidates and committees as contributions from the individuals, not from J. Derenzo Companies. The candidates and committees did not know that the contributions were made with corporate funds provided by someone other than the named contributor.

The campaign finance law prohibits disguising the true origin of a contribution, and prohibits corporate contributions in any amount.

In 2016, OCPF initiated an examination of contributions made by J. Derenzo Companies employees after a review of campaign finance reports. Howe cooperated fully with OCPF’s review.

According to the agreement, OCPF learned that the company utilized a petty cash account to reimburse employees for their campaign contributions from 2006 to 2016. Funds from that account were also provided to employees’ family members to allow them to make contributions to candidates and committees.

The existing candidate committees that received contributions have voluntarily disgorged or will disgorge the money to charitable entities – Baker ($4,500); Brady ($5,000); the Democratic State Committee ($5,000); Polito ($4,000); Tolman ($2,000); and Walsh ($14,500). The total being disgorged is $35,000. The remaining $2,000 in prohibited contributions were received by committees that no longer exist.

The agreement, available here, was signed by OCPF Director Michael Sullivan and Howe.

A disposition agreement is a voluntary written agreement entered into between the subject of a review and OCPF, in which the subject agrees to take certain specific actions.