EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 24, 2013

Lantigua's disclosures raise questions

LAWRENCE — The two years of financial disclosure forms that Mayor William Lantigua’s campaign committee filed this week settled old questions but raised new ones and may have done little to help Lantigua avoid a showdown with Attorney General Martha Coakley over his fundraising and spending.

Coakley already is investigating Lantigua’s alleged failure to report expenses for as many as 15 campaign events in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and the financial disclosure forms for 2012 that Lantigua filed Tuesday may cause her to widen her investigation.

Lantigua’s 2012 form reports no expenses for the first major event of his re-election campaign, a rally at a downtown nightclub that drew 100 people on Dec. 28, when he announced his re-election. Lantigua reported spending just $1,755 last year, for postage, a printer toner cartridge and what appears to be a charitable donation.

Lantigua did not return a phone call seeking to learn why the expense for the campaign event at Rio’s Bar and Grill on Appleton Street was not reported. Club owner Angel Villalona could not be reached to learn if he hosted the event for Lantigua without charging him, which would violate a campaign finance law barring corporations from making cash or in-kind contributions.

Brad Puffer, a spokesman for Coakley, would not comment on the missing campaign event, except to say that his office “will work with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance to ensure the filings meet all legal requirements.”

Lantigua is due to respond Jan. 30 to a suit Coakley filed earlier this month in Suffolk Superior Court seeking to force him to file the 2011 campaign disclosure form, which was more than a year late when Lantigua filed it Wednesday along with the 2012 disclosure form. The 2012 form was filed a few hours before the midnight deadline.

Coakley’s suit also seeks an order directing Lantigua to pay the $5,000 fine that accumulated while the form was overdue. The fine still has not been paid, OCPF spokesman Jason Tait said yesterday.

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