Warren relents, returns $130K in donations from outed law firm
By Evan Lips | November 3, 2016, 16:40 EST
BOSTON — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is finally returning nearly $130,000 in campaign donations from a Hub-based law firm proven to have reimbursed its wealthy partners’ political donations with company “bonuses,” days after the firm was exposed in a lengthy Boston Globe report.
The Globe straw-donor exposé landed Sunday morning, as Warren was preparing to travel to Nevada to stump for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Immediately after the story ran, Beacon Hill watchdog Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance called on Warren and other Democrats who benefitted from the alleged scheme to return any and all donations from the Thornton Law Firm, whose partner and former state Rep. Garrett Bradley (D-Hingham) abruptly and mysteriously resigned from his elected post last summer after a Globe reporter asked about his campaign firm’s practices.
New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, currently engaged in a heated campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, announced within hours of the report’s publication that she would be returning more than $51,000 in donations.
Hassan was one of a large group of Congressional Democrats who immediately returned Thornton’s campaign cash.
A spokesman for the Cambridge Democrat, who has made her name in the Senate for “taking on the big banks,” “said that she (Warren), too, will return contributions from Thornton lawyers, after initially saying she would wait for the results of an investigation.”
Related: Boston fiscal watchdog calls on state to investigate law firm’s donations to Dems
Prior to Warren’s decision, Kirsten Hughes, chairman of the state GOP, ripped Warren for a perceived double-standard.
“Democrat politicians like Sen. Elizabeth Warren have spent their careers decrying hidden money in politics, yet Warren refuses to return the contributions she received in connection with this Democrat fundraising scheme that appeared to funnel hidden money to candidates,” Hughes said in a prepared statement provided to Fox News.
Warren’s decision to return the cash coincided with Attorney General Maura Healey’s announcement calling on federal investigators to conduct a probe on Thornton.
State records show that Thornton donated $2,000 to Healey in 2015.
On Thursday, MFA Executive Director Paul Craney called on state Rep. Christopher Markey (D-New Bedford), chairman of the House Committee on Ethics, to open an investigation into Bradley’s dealings on Beacon Hill — specifically his time serving as House chairman of the Joint Committee on Election Laws.
While serving in this role, Bradley sponsored and helped pass a bill allowing candidates running in both special and general elections, in the same calendar year, to accept individual $1,000 donations prior to a special election and again another $1,000 prior to the general.
“This, of course, was a benefit to him and his associates at his law firm,” Craney said in a prepared statement.