Embattled state Rep. Carlos Henriquez, charged last week with assaulting and kidnapping a 23-year-old student, faced new questions this week over his campaign finances after a conservative watchdog group filed its own detailed complaint against him with state officials.
Henriquez, a Democrat representing parts of Dorchester and Roxbury, said in a brief phone interview that he was cooperating with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, which oversees the filings.
Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance highlighted $800 in fines that Henriquez currently owes the state agency. The fines stem from late campaign finance filings that were due in Jan. 2011 and July 2011. The fines were referred to a private collections agency last year.
The group, also known as MassFiscal, sent a letter to OCPF requesting an investigation and noting that Henriquez’s campaign committee had a number of transactions listed as “cash withdrawals” from an ATM, gift cards and “cashier’s check fee.” State regulations prohibit the use of a debit card to obtain cash.
Henriquez’s campaign filings also provide little information about reimbursements, according to the letter submitted by the group’s head, Paul Craney.
In one instance, the campaign account was used to buy an iPad, which is allowed as long as it’s not for anybody’s personal use.
Craney, in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, said the fines “could be one extended misunderstanding but we fear it’s not.”
Henriquez told the Reporter on Tuesday that he has already met with OCPF to review the rules, fill out supplemental reports and go through existing reports.
He said the fines, some of which he’s paid, were the result of his campaign treasurer being out of the country. Henriquez could not file the reports on his own, he said.
OCPF sent several notices in 2011 to Henriquez’s home, pointing to the fines, which must be paid out of the candidate’s personal funds and not out of campaign coffers.
Henriquez isn’t the only candidate who owes money to OCPF.
In 2012, OCPF has sent dozens of names to a collection agency, including those of 11 Democrats and 7 Republicans, along with 7 municipal candidates and one Marblehead resident who once ran for state representative as an independent.
Natalie Carithers, a Grove Hall resident who ran for the District 7 Council seat in early 2011, owes OCPF $4,200, according to the agency. The maximum a person can owe is $5,000.
Darrin Howell, a Democrat who ran for Sixth Suffolk state representative in 2010, owes $1,200.
Carithers, who was a finalist for the job of Boston city clerk in 2011, disputed that she owed that much money.
“I don’t think that’s quite accurate and my treasurer’s submitted paperwork” requesting a waiver, she said.
She said she has been out of town and her treasurer has had some “family issues.” “It will all be rectified,” she said.
The money she owes is exceeded by a Springfield Republican who was running for municipal office and owes $4,275.
Howell, who now lives in Roslindale but remains in the Sixth Suffolk, said both he and his treasurer had recently moved, so they had not received the OCPF letters informing him of the fines. He said he’ll be following up with OCPF with his own letter.
Cornell Mills, who like Carithers ran for the District 7 seat, is also on the list of candidates who were sent to a collections agency in 2012. Mills, the son of former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, owes $200, according to OCPF records.
The revelation of Henriquez’s fines came more than a week after the lawmaker was arraigned in Roxbury District Court, where he pleaded not guilty to the array of charges. Henriquez will also be arraigned in Medford on July 31, since the alleged incident apparently occurred in both Middlesex County and Suffolk County – starting in Arlington Heights and ending near Northeastern University.
Discrepancies surrounding the incident are already starting to emerge: The Arlington police report, which further details the incident, says Henriquez picked the alleged victim up at her mother’s house at 3 a.m. Sunday, July 8, while the Boston police report said it was around 2 a.m. And Boston police told reporters on Sunday Henriquez was arrested in the Northeastern University area, while their police report, released the following Monday, stated he was arrested at his Judson St. home.
According to the Arlington police report, which was obtained by the State House News Service, the alleged victim also accused Henriquez of having alcohol on his breath when he came by to pick her up. She then alleged that Henriquez back-handed her and refused to let her out of the car after she said she could not come with him for the night.
Henriquez has maintained his innocence, but stated that advice from his attorney prevents him from providing details about what happened that night.
Activists in his Fifth Suffolk District remain disappointed and frustrated. Members of the Ward 15 Democratic Committee met informally last week and discussed Rep. Henriquez’s problems. But no formal action was taken and it remains unclear if anybody will be willing to challenge the freshman lawmaker in a write-in or sticker campaign.
His lone opponent remains former state Rep. Althea Garrison, a perennial candidate who is running as an independent on the November ballot.
The primary is Sept. 6, a Thursday, while the final election is on Nov. 6.
Former State House staffers sign on at City Hall
The City Council’s central staff has a new research director. Michael Nichols, a former State House aide will be drafting reports and writing legislation for the 13-member council. He previously served as chief of staff and legal counsel to state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Dorchester) and legal counsel to the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.
Another former State House staffer has joined District 6 Councillor Matt O’Malley’s office. Ture Turnbull, a Jamaica Plain resident, will be the liaison for his neighborhood and O’Malley, handling constituent services. He has worked as an aide to Rep. Denise Garlick (D-Needham) and state Sen. Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) and as a research director for the Joint Committee on Tourism and Cultural Development.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Material from State House News Service was used in this report. Email us at email@example.com  and follow us on Twitter: @LitDrop and @gintautasd.