Home Credit inquiry State Finds New Foxboro School Board Member’s Campaign Fundraising Break Laws, But No Action Warrants (Copy) | Local News

State Finds New Foxboro School Board Member’s Campaign Fundraising Break Laws, But No Action Warrants (Copy) | Local News


FOXBORO – The state’s office for campaigns and political finance ruled that newly elected school committee member Sarah Lidonni broke campaign finance laws ahead of the annual municipal elections on May 3, but found that the sanctions were not justified because any infringement was not intentional.

According to a decision by director William Campbell dated June 22, the agency’s review was prompted by a third-party complaint about Lidonni’s fundraising activities that alleged his political committee improperly used the online payment service Venmo to raise campaign funds, had organized a raffle to raise funds. funds without accurately disclosing the amounts received and used the Ahern School PAC Facebook page to promote her application.

Prior to the May 3 election, Lidonni served as the chairman of the college’s parents’ council, but resigned after officially joining the race.

Although the agency’s investigation supported the complaint, Campbell’s determination noted that any lack of compliance was unintentional, adding that because Lidonni’s campaign committee had taken “corrective action,” no sanctions were taken. was necessary.

“Because we believe that the guidance provided as a result of this review will ensure future compliance, no further action is required and the matter can be closed at this time,” the provision said.

A copy of the document, which has been designated as a public record, was sent anonymously to The Sun Chronicle.

The campaign’s finance office further explained that online fundraising is allowed, provided all donors are identified by name and residential address. Additionally, online platforms must certify that any contribution was made from a donor’s personal funds, and they are responsible for debit or credit card payments.

Venmo is a mobile payment platform that combines social media with financial transactions to allow account holders to transfer funds to others through a mobile phone app. Owned by PayPal, it was designed for peer-to-peer transactions typically involving family and friends.

Reached this week, Lidonni said all of his online contributions were included – although not specifically identified as such – in an initial campaign fundraising report filed with the city clerk’s office on April 23.

Following that filing, Lidonni said she was contacted by staff at the state’s campaign finance office about the alleged irregularities, after which she was able to verify the source of all contributions.

“I think the origin of the complaint was to make sure I was sticking to the line,” she said. “This was my first time running for a job, so I was new to all of this, but I understand the importance of making sure everything is done right.”

Admitting that Venmo is a ‘gray area’ in terms of campaign fundraising, she said she opted for the online service only because the COVID-19 pandemic has made some supporters anxious about more methods. conventional.

“There was nothing sinister about it, or anything like that,” she said.

According to campaign fundraising reports at the city clerk’s office, Lidonni received a total of $ 2,624 in cash contributions while spending $ 2,055, leaving him with a balance of $ 569. The report also listed an in-kind donation of $ 92 for the work on the website.

Due to the remaining balance, Lidonni will have to submit an additional financial report next January, said city clerk Robert Cutler.

Cutler said he was aware that a complaint had been filed with the political finance bureau ahead of the May 3 election, but added that any financial investigation is handled at the state level.

“We have no executive authority” when it comes to campaign finance matters, Cutler said.

In the May election, Lidonni defeated South Street’s Salina Chowdhury in a three-for-two open school committee seat race, with outgoing board member Richard Pearson also being re-elected.

It was Chowdhury’s second run for a seat on the school board. In 2020, she was narrowly beaten for a single seat on the board of directors by newcomer Michelle Raymond.


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