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Press Release

Press Release Thornton Law Firm Investigation Complete

DA recommends changes in law concerning LLP political contributions.
For immediate release:
4/18/2018
  • Essex District Attorney’s Office

Media Contact for Thornton Law Firm Investigation Complete

Carrie Kimball Monahan, Director of Communications

Salem, Massachusetts — The Essex District Attorney's Office has concluded its investigation into political campaign contributions and reimbursements at the Thornton Law Firm and has found no conclusive evidence of a crime.

“While our investigation did not find sufficient evidence to support a criminal charge, we are recommending enhancements to current state campaign finance laws to address the ambiguities in the law that gave rise to these allegations,”  Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) requested the Attorney General’s Office  open a criminal investigation into the Thornton Law Firm to determine if contributions to political candidates were made by partners and spouses with personal funds and were not paid for or reimbursed by the Thornton Law Firm.  The Attorney General’s Office referred the matter to the Essex District Attorney's Office to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The Essex District Attorney's Office conducted a forensic examination of the materials and documents turned over from OCPF to determine if the campaign contributions were in fact made with personal funds and not those of the Thornton Law Firm.  (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 55, Section 8 and 10 prohibits corporations and other entities from making campaign contributions and requires truthful reporting of the source of the contribution.)  Over the course of the investigation, a Certified Fraud Examiner employed by the Essex District Attorney’s Office spent over 280 hours reviewing all materials provided by OCPF, examining materials, documents, individual partner bank records, and reviewed all relevant campaign finance laws, regulations, relevant OCPF opinions, interpretive bulletins and memorandums.

This investigation concurred with an OCPF review that there was a pattern of contributions from nine current or former partners and seven of their spouses and deposits of the same or similar amounts to their accounts.  However, there was not adequate evidence to conclude that contributions were made with partnership funds or that the Thornton Law Firm reimbursed partners with firm funds for their contributions. 

As a result, the Essex District Attorney's Office recommended the following steps to enhance existing campaign finance laws and regulations:

  • Include a requirement that LLP accounts that are created by a partnership to hold the equity interest of individual partners are maintained in accordance with an acceptable accounting practice, such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
  • Require an annual statement by partners, signed under the penalties of perjury that campaign contributions were made with personal funds and not partnership funds.
  • Require that partners use their own personal checking accounts for campaign contributions, rather than using accounts created by the partnership to hold the equity interest of individual partners for such activity.

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Media Contact for Thornton Law Firm Investigation Complete

Essex District Attorney’s Office 

Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett is committed to holding criminals accountable, securing justice for victims of crime and providing services and drug treatment to non-violent offenders.

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