Patrick Blanchette fined $20,000 for taking money from campaign

Blanchette is Mayor Lantigua’s Economic Development Director and Former City Council President

By: Tom Duggan – October, 2010

City of Lawrence's Economic Development Director, Patrick Blanchette
City of Lawrence’s Economic Development Director, Patrick Blanchette is the former Lawrence City Council President

The State Office of Campaign Finance (OCPF) has fined former Lawrence City Council President Patrick Blanchette $20,000 for taking money from his city council campaign account going back to 2006 among other violations.

Blanchette has admitted to OCPF that he wrote checks to himself from his campaign account totaling $12,985 “with no supporting records on how the money was used for campaign purposes.”

Blanchette was the city council president in Lawrence for six years and was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick as a conciliator in the State Office of Industrial Accidents while still on the city council. Blanchette was a candidate for mayor at the time. The Internal Revenue Service currently has a tax lien on Blanchette for failing to pay taxes during the same time frame he was writing checks to himself from his campaign account. Blanchette has been a supporter of Governor Patrick through his ‘close personal friendship with Lt. Governor Tim Murray who appeared at a Blanchette fundraiser last year.’

While the city council president, Blanchette refused to set a tax rate in 2009 and held up Mayor Sullivan’s budget causing a budget deficit that ballooned from $9.5 million to $24.5 million after he refused to send out the city’s property tax bills. Last month, the Lawrence City Council voted to confirm Mayor Lantigua’s appointment of Blanchette as the city’s Economic Development Director despite his tax liens and financial mismanagement of the city’s budget from 2006-2009. The city council voted 8-1 to confirm Blanchette with only Marc LaPlante voting against him.

The report by OCPF released last month, stated that Blanchette accepted contributions from corporations and individuals, failed to report cash expenditures and donations and refused to disclose donations and expenditures, accepted donations that were not deposited into his campaign account and cannot be accounted for, failed to keep records of donations and expenditures, accepted campaign contributions in excess of the $500 legal limit, accepted illegal money orders, used campaign funds for personal use, and expenditures made with cash.

According to the report, Blanchette tried to blame his bank for shoddy record keeping and discrepancies, “Furthermore, the candidate repeatedly expressed his concern to OCPF regarding the accuracy of bank records provided by the bank of record.”

Blanchette is now ordered to pay $6,000 immediately in fines and penalties, $6,000 to be paid no later tan January 1, 2011, $4,000 to be paid no later than May 31, 2011, and another $4,000 fine by September 30, 2011. Failure by Blanchette to make any of the above payments could result in a criminal penalties and an investigation by the Attorney General.