$44 million in coast-to-coast contributions fuel Massachusetts congressional races

BU News Service

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story on campaign contributions and expenditures for Massachusetts candidates for Congress did not make clear it was for reported totals for individual donations over $200 only to candidates and not all receipts and expenditures in total this election cycle. The story has been updated with new numbers.

BOSTON – Individual donors from coast-to-coast have pumped more than $44 million into the campaign coffers of Massachusetts candidates seeking congressional seats this election cycle, data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows.

A blue deluge of $39 million flooded the Bay State Democratic campaigns of congressional hopefuls who took in individual donations from New England to Maryland, Mississippi to Colorado, California to Oregon and dozens of states in between.

The yield for Massachusetts Republicans from individual donors was just over $4.2 million with much of it coming from inside the Commonwealth. Independent candidates Shiva Ayyadurai and Michael Mullen netted $195,111 and $14,527 respectively from individual donors, the data shows.

Massachusetts residents contributed the highest number of donations, followed by California, New York, Florida and Texas. The top five cities where donations came from were Boston, New York, Cambridge, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, but even residents listing Dallas as their hometown donated an impressive $2.2 million, the data shows.

Among the top 20 individuals powering the Massachusetts federal races include a Bain Capital executive, a Chicago paper mogul, a well-connected Boston real estate developer, a Milton attorney and philanthropist and a former Attorney General and failed gubernatorial candidate.

The millions pouring into Massachusetts to influence the makeup of the congressional delegation is nothing unusual this election cycle. As of the end of October, spending for the midterms surpassed the previous cycle by $500 million, with candidates, political parties, political action committees and nonprofits shelling out a collective $4.7 billion to influence votes, according to CRP.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who handily won reelection, led the Massachusetts delegation in fundraising by an extremely wide berth – generating more than $34 million this cycle overall, with $30 million of that coming from individual donors.

Those contributions streamed in from Dorchester to Santa Monica, including donations from actresses Jamie Lee Curtis and Annette O’Toole, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a fellow Democrat, and Hollywood producer Edward Zwick. Warren, who is potentially eyeing a White House run in 2020, faced Republican state representative Geoff Diehl, who raised a total of $2.7 million to date, the data shows.

Warren spent around $21 million, largely on web advertising, fundraising mailings and calls, salaries and benefits for her campaign staff, the data shows.

Neither Warren nor her staff responded to requests for comment about her fundraising last week.

After Warren, Ayyadurai and Diehl, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a Democrat, led the Massachusetts congressional hopefuls in fundraising pulling in a total of $4.3 million overall, the data shows.  Kennedy III was elected to the Fourth district congressional seat last night.

The Blue, Boston Female Wave?

Female donors, many wealthy Bostonians, supporting Democrats, comprised nine of the top 20 individual donors powering federal races in Massachusetts this cycle.

Among them: MIT Research Scientist Felice Frankel, who spread a total of $16,889 across female candidates including Ayanna Pressley, who won the Seventh congressional district seat in Congress.

Rep. Katherine Clark, re-elected to the Fifth district, and Elizabeth Warren.  Planned Parenthood Board of Directors Chair Naomi Aberly also gave $16,200 to Democratic candidates Kennedy III, Pressley, Warren and Juana Matias, a state representative who failed in the September primaries to replace retiring U.S Rep. Nikki Tsongas in the Third congressional district, the data shows.

Former Attorney General, and failed 2014 Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley was one of the most generous donors this cycle, underwriting the campaigns of all Democratic females except for one male – Stephen Kerrigan, the data shows.

Kerrigan, a former head of the Democratic National Convention, dropped his bid to for the Third congressional district seat following his mother’s death in February.

Coakley’s generosity lies in sharp contrast to one of her most recent predecessors as AG, Democrat Scott Harshbarger, who made one $250 donation to Koh in June.

Harshbarger did not respond to requests for comment.

Coakley’s other predecessor, former AG Tom Reilly, has not contributed to congressional candidates this cycle, the data shows. He declined to discuss his and Coakley’s donation decisions when reached by phone this week.

One of the top female donors is from outside of Massachusetts – Kentucky art curator, whiskey heiress, and philanthropist Brooke Barzun donated $16,200 in total to the Warren campaign and Rufus Gifford, a former reality television star who unsuccessfully sought election to the Third congressional district.

Coakley is not the only former Massachusetts politician to give ― though she is the most generous. Former Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld, a Republican, donated $1,000 to Koh, as well as another $2,700 to Lindstrom, the data shows.

Former Massachusetts Democratic Governor Michael S. Dukakis gave Kennedy III a $500 donation this year, Dukakis’s only contribution to congressional candidates this cycle. Former Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney, who won election to the U.S. Senate from Utah, has not contributed to any Massachusetts congressional candidates this election cycle.

Millions spent on campaign staff, fundraising and consultants; other trends

Candidates spent their largest amounts during the campaign on campaign staff salaries and benefits, followed by fundraising and campaign consulting and strategy, the data shows.

The largest number of donors listed their occupation as either retired or not employed, followed by attorneys, writers, consultants and physicians, the data shows. More than 920 individual donors are affiliated with Harvard University. Roughly 300 are affiliated with Boston University, the data shows.

Lindsey Vickers, Caraghan Selfridge, Molly Neylan, Jonathan Chang, Cesar Naviquoche, Jacqueline O’Brien, Yun Choi and Brian Clare contributed to this report.

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