By Josh Resnek
Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s recent payments to criminal attorneys are being questioned by three members of the city council who are demanding that he reveal what the payments are for.
Since 2017, the mayor has reported spending nearly $200,000 for criminal legal representation with the international law firm, Greenberg Traurig and with a former criminal attorney now a Superior Court judge here in Massachusetts.
The council is questioning what the payments are for, exactly. Councilor Mike Marchese has filed a motion requiring the mayor to appear at the next meeting of the city council to tell all.
Two of his colleagues Councilor Mike McLaughlin and At-Large Councilor Gerly Adrien are asking the same pointed question, with one of them, Councilor McLaughlin, also demanding the mayor’s presence before the city council to explain himself.
“If he’s not lying to us on his political campaign filings, then he has nothing to hide,” Marchese said.
“We need to know what these payments are for. It is not enough to claim “legal” as he does on his filings with the Office for Campaign and Political Finance without denoting what “legal” means.
The Office for Campaigns and Political Finance has been asked by the Leader Herald to conduct a review of the mayor’s expenses marked “legal.”
The OCPF refrains from speaking specifically by name of those being reviewed by their attorneys and refused to comment about DeMaria. An OCPF official told the Leader Herald that elected public officials in Massachusetts can use the proceeds from their political fundraising for legal issues related to their position.
Mayor DeMaria has been doing this for longer than two years.
In his most recent filing on January 21, by his political committee, about $60,000 in payments to attorneys were listed. An amount of about $22,000 remains owed, according to the OCPF.
The OCPF official said this would not include the public official from using political campaign contributions for personal issues not connected to his or her elected position.
For instance, the mayor and every elected public official cannot use their campaign funds to pay for a divorce, or a real estate transaction, or for their attorneys to manage payoffs to those seeking compensation who were sexually harassed.
Using campaign funds to pay for the litigation of personal criminal or civil issues is not allowed under Massachusetts state law.
According to the provisions of Mass State Law 970 CMR incurred for a violation of 970 CMR 2.06 no political committee may make an expenditure that is primarily for the candidate’s or any other person’s personal use.
Expenditures prohibited under the law shall include, but are not limited to the following: the payment of fines, penalties, restitution or damages incurred for a violation of M.G.L. c. 268A or 268B but shall not apply to payments for legal services in relation to defending against allegations of violations of such chapters of the General Laws; any expenditure which acknowledges any guilt as to the violation of any law, any expenses relative to alleged violations of law, civil suits, or administrative proceedings, other than those expenses relative to legal action undertaken to protect or further the interests of the political committee. However, under no circumstances may funds of a political committee be used for any such expenses incurred after conviction of the incumbent office holder, candidate or treasurer has occurred.
The mayor has been repeatedly urged to reveal what the payments for criminal attorneys are for.
He has refused to do so.
The coming city council effort will be for the councilors to extract from the mayor why exactly he is paying, and continuing to pay criminal attorneys to represent him.
“Is he part of an FBI investigation? We know he has cooperated with the government,” Marchese said. “He signed a proffer agreement. He’s connected at the hip of the FBI. We need to know why and what these criminal expenses are about,” he added.
“If he’s in trouble with the law, we need to know. The voters and citizens of Everett need to know,” Marchese said.
“If he’s lying to us, he needs to come clean.”