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Thursday, July 28, 2022

Senator Elaine Morgan caught and fined for ripping off her campaign fund

Board of Elections fines Morgan $1,200 for diverting funds for personal use

By Will Collette

Wait till you see her excuse
State Senator Elaine Morgan (Trumplican-Senate District 35) was busted by the state Board of Elections for dipping into her campaign account to pay for personal expenses. She was fined $1,200. Diverting cash for “personal use” is a criminal offense and has led to prosecutions for many legislators over the years.

Morgan represents the northern half of Charlestown as well as Richmond, her hometown of Hopkinton, Exeter and a part of West Greenwich. She took that position as part of the Right-Wing Class of 2014 by beating well-respected Sen. Cathy Cool Rumsey. Morgan faces a rematch with Charlestown Democrat Jennifer Douglas in the November 8 General Election.

The Board of Elections on its own conducted audits of the campaign accounts of several candidates for public office. In Morgan’s case, they found two major problems. One was the repeated offense of reporting large sums as “aggregated” donations, meaning they did not identify the donor or required details such as address and occupation.

The more serious violation was the taking of campaign cash on multiple occasions totaling $2,603.

In my mind, the most offensive thing Morgan did was to lie about the crime. In a statement on Monday, Morgan claims the money was used for a trip to Florida to receive an award from the Trumplican Conservative Political Action Conference (C-PAC) and blamed her late husband for her bookkeeping mistakes. He died in April 2021.

Always classy.

Here’s what she said, as reported by the Boston Globe:

·         Morgan issued a statement, saying, “First and most importantly, I take full responsibility for the mistakes that I made in my 2021-2022 campaign finance filings.”

·         She said she was nominated to receive an award at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida and “lumped the total expense of travel into aggregate.” She said she did not break down all of the expenses separately. as she should have, and corrected it as soon as she was cited.

·         “I did not do anything in a deliberate attempt to deceive the public,” Morgan said. “While it is not an excuse or deflection, when my husband died in April 2021, I realized I not only lost my best friend and confidante but also the one person who was most organized in my life.”

·         She said she has been in elected office now for eight years and always complied with campaign finance laws.

·         “The outstanding issues with the Board of Elections have been adjusted to their satisfaction and I will pay a fine,” Morgan said. “I now have all the controls in place to ensure this does not happen again.”

Except this is far from the whole truth. That prompted the Board of Elections to release full detail the following day. Nothing showed up in the audit related to Morgan’s C-PAC Florida trip although it could be $2,749 of un-itemized “aggregate” expenses. 

As for how Morgan spent the money flagged in the Board of Election audit, the Boston Globe included these:

· In January and February 2020, Morgan spent $1,227 from her campaign account for personal use, including a $500 cash withdrawal; $584 in expenses for food, beverages, and meals; and $142 in miscellaneous expenses.

· In April 2020, she used her campaign account to pay for $73 in groceries from Aldi.

· In April 2021, she used her campaign account to pay $320 at a Chelo’s restaurant.

· In February 2022, she used her campaign account to pay $108 for “grooming expense” at V Nails and Spa By Han.

· In February 2022, she used her campaign account to pay $875 to Patriot Coins.

You can read the full audit by clicking HERE.

The audit shows an additional $2,749 of un-itemized “aggregate” expenses. This might be the expenses for the Florida trip that Morgan mentioned in her statement.

At the end of the BOE audit, you will see that Morgan accepted the findings and waived all further proceedings. Thus, these are not “alleged” crimes since Morgan has copped to all the charges. In my opinion, she got off lightly with only a $1,200 fine and no criminal referral and probably ONLY because she made a deal.

Obviously Morgan’s claim that in her eight years as a state Senator, she has always complied with state election finance laws is a lie, especially when this audit only looked at the period from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022. That's only two and a half out of the almost eight years she has been in office.

She also lied when she threw her dead husband under the bus, blaming him for her financial misdeeds while also claiming she "takes full responsibility." Fully half of the time period covered by the audit was before his death including her grocery shopping at Aldi. Around the time he died, she spent $320 at Chelos.

Using campaign account money for personal expenses is a crime. She might think those funds are her money, but they aren't. And just because her icon Donald Trump did it doesn't make it legal.

Morgan was sworn into office in January 2015. This kind of cavalier thievery doesn’t just happen out of the blue. Indeed, you might almost expect a new legislator unfamiliar with campaign finance law to commit these violations. But she's now a veteran of eight years and should know better. I hope the BOE goes back and looks at the earlier five years.

Morgan does not have a Republican opponent in the September 13 primary but she does face a rematch with Democrat Jennifer Douglas in the November 8 General Election.