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PRESS
June 10, 2014

CREW Requests Investigations into Pay-to-Play Violations by MA Gov. Candidate Charlie Baker

By Gingerbella282 (Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service) [CC0], via Wikimedia CommonsWashington, D.C.—Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today called for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the New Jersey Attorney General, and the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission to investigate potential violations of federal and state pay-to-play rules by Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker and General Catalyst Partners, an investment firm with which Mr. Baker worked.

Read CREW's letters to:

In May 2011, Mr. Baker made a $10,000 contribution to the New Jersey State Republican Committee in support of Governor Chris Christie, just months before the state invested $15 million of pension funds with General Catalyst.  In 2013, Mr. Baker also hosted a fundraiser for Gov. Christie while General Catalyst managed those funds. The contribution and fundraiser appear to have violated federal and state pay-to-play laws.

Since he joined General Catalyst in 2011, the firm’s website has listed Mr. Baker as a partner and “Executive in Residence.”  In addition, Mr. Baker named General Catalyst as his employer on dozens of campaign finance reports, and numerous news reports over the years identified Mr. Baker as an executive with the firm. Nevertheless, Mr. Baker and General Catalyst now claim he never served as an executive, employee, or investment advisor.

CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “Mr. Baker portrayed himself as a General Catalyst executive right up until the day he realized being an executive meant he likely violated pay-to-play laws; only then did he disclaim the relationship. Given all the confusion Mr. Baker and General Catalyst have attempted to sow around the question of Mr. Baker’s employment status, it is imperative that federal and state authorities investigate.”

The SEC's pay-to-play regulations ban any registered investment adviser from providing its services to a government within two years after the firm or any of its covered associates made, coordinated, or solicited a contribution to an official of that government entity. If Mr. Baker was a General Catalyst partner, his $10,000 contribution to the New Jersey State Republican Committee and Christie fundraiser may well have violated that law as well as similar rules of the New Jersey State Investment Council and a New Jersey pay-to-play statute.

CREW also asked the agencies to investigate more than $208,000 in campaign contributions to New Jersey politicians and state parties by donors who work for investment firms that manage New Jersey’s pension funds.

Ms. Sloan continued, “Pay-to-play rules are intended to ensure contracts to manage pension funds are awarded on the basis of merit, not political contributions. The people of New Jersey and Massachusetts deserve to learn whether Mr. Baker violated pay-to-play laws and whether the contribution played a role in General Catalyst’s securing the $15 million investment.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Jordan Libowitz at 202.408.5565 or jlibowitz@citizensforethics.org.

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