BOSTON (AP) — The state attorney general’s office on Wednesday sued the mayor of Lawrence for failing to file a campaign finance report for nearly a year.
The lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court asks that William Lantigua be ordered to submit his 2011 year-end campaign finance report with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. The report was due Jan. 20 of last year.
‘‘We have put Mayor Lantigua on notice,’’ Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley told reporters. ‘‘There’s no excuse for it.’’
Campaign finance reports include details about who contributed to a candidate’s campaign and how the money was spent by the candidate.
A call and email to Lantigua’s office weren’t returned.
The lawsuit also seeks an order compelling Lantigua to personally pay any penalty imposed by the campaign finance office instead of using funds from his political committee. The penalty has now reached the legal maximum of $5,000, Coakley said.
OCPF officials referred the case to the attorney general’s office after Lantigua, a Democrat, ignored requests from them to submit his report, Coakley said.
Coakley said it’s particularly important that Lantigua get up to date with his campaign finance reports since he’s announced plans to seek re-election this year to the top political office in Lawrence, a working-class city of 80,000 residents about 30 miles north of Boston. Lantigua took office in 2010.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo said voters should have the expectation of financial disclosure from all candidates.
‘‘The public has a right to expect complete campaign finance reports from candidates in mayoral races, just as it has in state races,’’ said DeLeo, D-Winthrop.
If Lantigua continues to fail to file campaign finance reports, the court has several options, including additional fines or jail time, Coakley said. But because Lantigua is a municipal candidate and isn’t running for state or county office, the court can’t prevent him from seeking re-election.
Coakley said she favors changing the law to include municipal candidates. Republican House lawmakers said they are planning to file legislation to close what they describe as the loophole in the law.
The last campaign finance report from Lantigua, a former state lawmaker, was filed at the end of 2010. It showed he had an ending balance of $35,083 and outstanding debts of $6,024.
Lantigua has also come under scrutiny recently for his decision to hire political ally and former state legislator Jose Santiago, who was charged Monday with violating a restraining order obtained by a former girlfriend.
Santiago, a former Methuen police officer, pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance.