By Laurel J. Sweet | Thursday, June 23, 2011 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Local Politics
Photo by Christopher Evans (file)
A Web site has been soliciting donations for the “defense” of convicted felon Charles “Chuck” Turner through the ousted city councilor’s election committee — a potential violation of campaign finance laws, authorities said.
The Office of Campaign and Political Finance cannot comment on whether it will investigate SupportChuck Turner.com, but spokesman Jason Tait said a candidate is prohibited from making expenditures to a legal defense from their campaign account.
SupportChuckTurner.com, a privately registered domain, was requesting, “Please donate to Chuck Turner’s defense by giving directly to the Committee to Elect Chuck Turner.”
By 5 p.m. yesterday, after a day of inquiries by the Herald, the donation page had been removed from the site.
Even though Turner, 71, is locked up in a federal pen in West Virginia until November 2013, his campaign war chest — at $6,827 as of June 15 — is some 16 times richer than one year ago, when state records show the coffers held $417.
Laura Jennings Cranford, 69, said she recently gave Turner $500, but not specifically for legal bills. “I’ve never met a politician like him,” she said. “He’s a magnificent person.”
Most of the money has poured in since Turner’s Oct. 29 conviction on charges he took a $1,000 bribe to help out a businessman, then lied about it to the FBI.
Campaign laws permit a candidate who’s run afoul of the law to create a legal defense fund, but stipulates, “any donations received by the fund shall not be deposited into the candidate’s campaign account or a committee account.”
Turner’s appellate public defender, his wife and the Web site’s unnamed administrator did not respond to requests for comment. Records show no legal-related expenses paid out by Turner’s committee.
Brian McNiff, spokesman for Secretary of State William F. Galvin, said there’s nothing to stop Turner from running for office once he’s home in Roxbury.
“Political fallout is one thing,” McNiff said, “but legal, no.”
Turner, records show, loaned his campaign $167,120 last year. Tait said Turner can lawfully pay himself back from the replenished account.
Sheila Parks, 73, donated $100 to help out. “I don’t care what the money is used for as long as it’s used for him,” Parks said. “I think he does more good than a hundred people.”
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