City Councilor and mayoral candidate Rob Consalvo has a problem with Political Action Committees butting their noses into Boston politics, and he’s got the press conferences to prove it. But what Consalvo—or anyone else, for that matter—isn’t talking about, is the pervasiveness in which wealthy developers, lawyers, and business owners from outside of Boston are attempting to buy the first open election for Boston mayor in the 30 years.
Just over $3 million dollars have been raised among all 12 candidates for Boston Mayor, but only $1.196 million has actually come from city residents.
Outsiders are buying this election, but the only problem seems to be when that money comes from an organization rather than an individual who is capped at the $500 limit for donations.
Consalvo is being deliberate when he specifically denounces special-interest PAC money from outside of Boston—he isn’t getting offers for that sort of thing. Though he is getting plenty of cash from beyond the city limits, which accounts for about 56 percent of what he’s raised since beginning his run for mayor.
Marty Walsh and Felix Arroyo are the only candidates, so far, to have received PAC money. Arroyo pulled in $13,000 from the New York chapter of the SEIU, while Walsh has racked up $32,750 from collection of trade unions, with about $7,750 coming from across state lines. Right about now, I bet Walsh feeling pretty good about hanging onto his post as head of the Boston Builders Trade until he entered the mayor’s race.
Massachusetts law restricts individual campaign contributions at $500 per year per candidate.
In order to get around this rule, donors will sometimes give more money in the name of their spouse or other family members, regardless of how far away from Boston they may live.
Other times, money will come from law practices and construction companies that are based outside of the city, but do a good deal of work in Boston. As professionals, these people do have a stake in Boston politics, but no vote beyond contributions.
It wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that most of the money funding the entire race is from outside of the city.
Courting favor with wealthy outsiders is now worth more to a candidate than actually listening to the needs of voters. How else do you think Mike Ross has been able to remain a relevant contender?
Only four of the 12 candidate have collected more than 50 percent of their funds from Boston residents, but their totals only account for $318,559—just about one tenth of all funds raised in the race.
Candidate Charlotte Golar Richie has said that she will not support Consalvo’s “Boston pledge,” which would have candidates donate half the cost of their PAC donations to the One Fund. It is easy to speculate that her reluctance has something to do with the fact that Emily’s List just formed a Massachusetts Political Action Committee—just weeks after having endorsed the race’s sole female candidate.
PAC money could make Golar Richie a contender, but it could also cement John Connolly’s spot in the top two.
The Democrats for Education Reform, a pro-charter school, anti-teachers’ union lobby group, recently formed a PAC in Boston, which follows the endorsement of John Connolly from the organization.
In classic Consalvo style, the Boston Pledge seems more like a tax on Special Interest groups, which isn’t a bad idea.
Either way, with John Connolly, Dan Conley, Marty Walsh and Mike Ross as the big money contenders in this race,
there continues to be a good chance that City Hall will be purchased by an opportunist who has no problem cozying up to robber baron wealth.