Mass. Lt. Gov. Seeks Probe Of Ex-Housing Director

BOSTON (AP) — Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray asked the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance on Monday to investigate whether a former housing authority director improperly raised money for Murray’s past political campaigns.

Murray made the request in a letter sent to the finance office’s director, Michael J. Sullivan. The lieutenant governor cited a story in The Boston Globe on Sunday that said former Chelsea Housing Authority director Michael McLaughlin ran an extensive political operation for Murray. The story was based largely on interviews with politicians and housing authority employees, many of whom spoke anonymously to the newspaper.

“I request that the Office of Campaign and Political Finance investigate the alleged improprieties on the part of Mr. McLaughlin,” wrote Murray, adding that his own political committee would cooperate fully in any probe.

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A spokesman for the office said it could not, by law, confirm or deny the existence of any review.

McLaughlin resigned from his post at the Chelsea Housing Authority, which oversees public housing in a city just outside Boston, in November after the disclosure that he was earning a $360,000 annual salary. The Globe has also reported previously that cellphone records showed McLaughlin and Murray called each other dozens of times in the seven months before McLaughlin’s resignation and that the two spoke within hours after the newspaper began making inquiries about the hefty salary.

The lieutenant governor has acknowledged that McLaughlin was a political supporter but has insisted that he was misled and was unaware of the details of McLaughlin’s salary.

“I was misled, as were lots of other people, organizations and agencies,” Murray said in November. “As soon as we got the full story of it, this administration took quick action.”

A justice of the state’s highest court on Monday approved a request from Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick to place the Chelsea Housing Authority under receivership following McLaughlin’s resignation on Nov. 2. The housing authority, which oversees state and federal funding, manages about 1,450 housing units in eight developments in the city of 35,000 residents.

Murray’s political committee has denied that McLaughlin was a fundraiser for the lieutenant governor.

The Globe on Sunday reported that McLaughlin’s political activity on behalf of Murray could run afoul of the law, particularly if it occurred during working hours.

McLaughlin did not return a call from the newspaper seeking comment.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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