Rep. Pignatelli fined $250 over campaign gaffe

Tuesday July 31, 2012

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, has agreed to pay a $250 fine following a complaint that his campaign treasurer was also a public employee.

State campaign finance law prohibits public employees from serving as committee treasurers.

Pignatelli said the violation was the result of an oversight.

"It was brought to my attention, we fixed and we've moved on," Pignatelli said. "I've paid a $250 penalty and the case is closed."

The complaint was handled by the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

According to a letter from the office, Pignatelli's longtime treasurer, Marge Pero, continued to serve as his re-election committee's treasurer after she was hired as the acting town accountant in Lenox in July 2011.

Pignatelli removed Pero as treasurer as soon as he was made aware of the conflict, according to the letter. His new treasurer is listed Chris Quetti, a Great Barrington accountant.

Pignatelli said the possibility that he was in violation of state law never crossed his mind because he has handled all his own banking and state campaign filings since the process was digitized around 2006.

"She was treasurer in name only," Pignatelli said.

Both Pignatelli and Pero told state investigators that Pero never solicited funds for the campaign or attended fund raising events.

Pignatelli expressed dismay that the person who filed the complaint chose to go to the state rather than tell him about the violation.

"They could have just called me," he said. "I know this is politically motivated to embarrass me and embarrass my family, and I think that's very unfortunate."

Complaints filed with the OCPF are confidential, accor ding to the office's spokesman.

Pignatelli, who represents the 4th Berkshire District, is facing a challenge from Green-Rainbow candidate L. Scott Laugenour in the November election.


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