State campaign finance office hits former Easthampton mayoral candidates with fines

  • Easthampton Municipal Building GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/31/2022 7:39:36 PM
Modified: 1/31/2022 7:38:07 PM

EASTHAMPTON — A former city mayoral candidate has been fined for not submitting a year-end campaign finance disclosure report to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

The state office issued a civil penalty notice to Keith Routhier on Friday, Jan. 21, indicating that he had missed the Jan. 20 deadline to file a campaign finance disclosure report and would be fined $25 per day for each day the report is late.

“The daily penalty will continue to be assessed until this report is filed,” the letter states.

Fines can accumulate up to $5,000, according to Jason Tait, education and communications director for the Campaign and Political Finance office.

Routhier ran for mayor last year. He was featured on the ballot alongside Eric Berzins and Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, who won with 67.8% of the vote. Write-in candidate Donald Torrey came in second, winning around 20% of the vote.

“Year-end reports are required for all candidates who are organized with OCPF, whether they won or not. They are due each Jan. 20, and contain a summary of the year’s activity,” Tait said. “After a report is filed, OCPF’s director can consider waiving a fine, in whole or in part. Candidates can also be referred to the state’s attorney general for not filing.”

Both LaChapelle and Torrey submitted their reports to the state office detailing receipts and expenditures of campaign activity on time. Berzins also received a civil penalty notice for missing the deadline to file, but a letter dated Jan. 25 from the Campaign and Political Finance office indicates that he has no outstanding liabilities or assets. However, he was fined $25 for missing the deadline.

In an interview Friday, Routhier said that he was unaware that he had to file a report and offered gratitude for alerting him of the notice.

Tait said the Office of Campaign and Political Finance has asked city clerks to refer their new candidates for mayor to the state office, so the candidate can organize in advance of raising or spending money.

Easthampton City Clerk Barbara LaBombard said that once a mayoral candidate has taken out nomination papers and turned in the required number of signatures to be on the ballot, she sends a reminder letter indicating that they will have a campaign finance report due. She also noted that she provides a link to the report form as well as a link to the Campaign and Political Finance office website, which contains several “how-to” videos. By the end of December, LaBombard sends another reminder, she said.

Although Tait said there were no statistics available on how often candidates do not file, the list of 2021 year-end non-filers is available at ocpf.us/Reports/NonFilerList. The list includes nearly 30 names of those who sought an office as a legislator and more than 60 names of those who sought an office as a city councilor or mayor that have not filed campaign finance reports.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.

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