Pols and Politics: ‘Reasonable and necessary’
Under state campaign finance laws, politicians are allowed to spend their political war chest on items as long as they’re “reasonable and necessary expenses directly related to the campaign of the candidate.”
That simple definition lends itself to a broad interpretation of what actually constitutes as help toward getting one elected. And, according to a Herald sampling of lawmakers’ midyear finance reports filed last week, that can mean a range of quirky and unexpected expenditures
• Pin up: Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg greeted each senator this session with a Senate pin — a gesture that cost the Amherst Democrat $290 (including extras). It still wasn’t as much, however, as the water bottles he doled out to members after complaints of senators inadvertently advertising brand-name drinks in the chamber.
The blue bottles adorned with the Senate seal — which senators were told they could fill using the bubbler in the chamber — ran his account $351, according to his expenditure list.
• Until death … : Who knew love and politics mixed? State Rep. Thomas Petrolati spent $100 on a gift for a constituent that his report initially labeled as “wedding,” but that an aide said was actually a contribution to a Jack and Jill party — or shared engagement affair — for a constituent’s son.
State Rep. Jim Arciero also dropped $100 on a Burton’s gift card for a wedding gift, while state Sen. Ben Downing bought a $100 wedding gift from OpenTable.com — for fellow Sen. Anne Gobi.
• End of the rainbow: A reccurring theme among Dorchester state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry’s expenditures is St. Patrick’s Day, where as the “Southie Senator,” she emcees the annual political yuk-fest. But Forry doesn’t just throw on a green shirt and take the stage. She poured nearly $2,800 into ads, banners and prep toward the event this year, including $350 to make-up artist, Phoebe’s Faces.
• HRC: State lawmakers don’t just rake in donations, they hand them out, too — and few recipients were as popular as Hillary Clinton during the first six months this year.
Twelve different reps and senators — all Democrats — sent Hillary for America a $1,000 donation from their own political coffers, starting with Sen. March Pacheco in late April to Rep. Alan Silvia in late June. Meanwhile, Republican state Rep. Jim Lyons gave $100 to presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz.
• Join the club: Several members use their accounts to pay dues for their various civic and social endeavors, ranging from Rosenberg and the UMass Club ($91) to Rep. Shaunna O’Connell and the Taunton Kiwanis Club ($70) to Rep. Thomas Kalter and the Kingston Lions Club ($75).
Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo, meanwhile, paid $60 in dues to Moose International, a one-time men’s club founded in the 1800s that now touts its focus on civic engagement — and having a 70-acre retirement community near Jacksonville, Fla., for its own senior members dubbed “Moosehaven.” A DeLeo spokesman said the Winthrop Democrat has been a member for more than two decades.
• Eat up: In a non-election year, no single item may be bought and paid for more often out of campaign accounts than food — and it’s usually reasoned as a lunch, dinner or staff meeting.
DeLeo once bought $6,477 worth of Kelly’s Roast Beef to cater an event. Carrie Nation, the Beacon Street bar and restaurant, has become a popular pol hangout, but no one topped Majority Leader Ronald Mariano, who dropped $7,887 on an “event expense” there.
But it doesn’t always have to be big-money items. Downing, the Pittsfield Democrat, twice included a $2.30 expense for Dunkin’ Donuts. The stated purpose: “Senator’s Coffee.”
by Matt Stout