Yes It’s Corrupt: Marty Money and Connolly Cash

The other day I posted AFT Proud and argued that the American Federation of Teachers secret half-million dollar expenditure on behalf of Marty Walsh’s campaign for mayor of Boston should be considered an emblem of a corrupt campaign finance system. Some fellow Twitterers were dismayed that I would use the word corruption but I stand by the word and its meaning.

In writing AFT Proud I had in mind Michael Sandel’s book What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets. Sandel writes that the idea of markets has come to dominate our approach to many issues that should not be relegated to market calculations. “Putting a price on the good things in life can corrupt them.”

Foremost among our good things in this country is a democracy in which each citizen has an equal voice. But our campaign finance system has created a market in offices. How much for a mayor of Boston? To the AFT a mayor of Boston is worth $480,000. As we read in today’s Boston Globe story No part in Walsh ad, teachers say by reporter Wesley Lowery, a Boston mayor is worth $1.3 million to the group Democrats for Education Reform, which backed Connolly. And on and on. A market in democracy is not democracy.

Twitter doesn’t lend itself to much discourse so I’m not sure what my friends argue is not corrupt about these campaign finance practices. Some political scientists have gone beyond what is purely legal to consider other practices that might be considered politically corrupt – actions hidden from the public for instance. So in addition to AFT Proud let’s see what Mr. Lowery’s No part in Walsh ad, teachers say has to inform us about actions the interests have decided voters should not know.

First, it turns out that the Boston Teachers Union knew nothing, nothing (cue the Sergeant Schultz imitation) about its national parent involving itself in a local race. However, BTU president Richard Stutman personally endorsed Walsh at the last minute.  But here’s the real quote from the story, the one I love so much:

“It’s remarkable that both the AFT and BTU calculated that a public endorsement would hurt Walsh,” said Liam Kerr, the state director Democrats for Education Reform, which spent more than $1.3 million on behalf of Connolly. . . . In addition to Democrats for Education Reform, which is funded in large part by a New York nonprofit that does not disclose its donors . . .

That’s right, Mr. Kerr who sat atop $1.3 million in clandestine Connolly cash, attacks the teacher’s unions for mystery Marty money.

When AFT president Randi Weingarten was pressed on Twitter about why the union did not disclose its investment at a time when voters could at least assess the interests involved, again according to Lowery, Weingarten responded “No req’t to disclose. … This was abt Marty Walsh’s record helping working people.”

The money is secret but the chutzpah, balls, cujones, (your adjective here) are right there. Amazing. You can’t make this stuff up.

Yes, I stand behind the word corrupt. We don’t have a democracy, we have a campaign finance farce-cracy.



About Maurice T. Cunningham

Maurice T. Cunningham is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He teaches courses in American government including Massachusetts Politics, The American Presidency, Catholics in Political Life, The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln, American Political Thought, and Public Policy. His book Maximization, Whatever the Cost: Race, Redistricting and the Department of Justice examines the role of the DOJ in requiring states to maximize minority voting districts in the Nineties. He has published articles dealing with the role of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts politics and on party politics in the state. His research interests focus upon the changing political culture of Massachusetts.
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One Response to Yes It’s Corrupt: Marty Money and Connolly Cash

  1. Sol says:

    1. I WOULD say that I was born here, but Devin seems to think that Cambridge is a rural suburb of Boston. So to aewsnr this question, I’d have to say because of my friends. After college I moved home, all the way to the sticks, while most of my close friends relocated to Southie, ie two of them got an apartment together. I found myself hanging out there more and more, getting ready before a night out, walking Castle Island or going to the beach. It seemed to be the central meeting spot between my friends and me. Once I was ready to move out on my own, I decided that I wanted to be in Southie since I loved it so much, was pretty affordable, there was, albeit frustrating, parking and it was really close to my mom, who still lives in Cambridge.2. I don’t have any plans to leave anytime soon.3. If I was able to purchase an affordable house/condo in a nice area, I may be convinced to stay forever. Although, I think that for me to afford what I’d like, I need a higher paying job, as I don’t think my salary right now would cut it. Yea, a new job would be nice.

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