February 13, 2008
One local lawmaker returned money to an Indian tribe after their leader disgraced himself. A senator spent $85 on make-up for the St. Patrick's Day breakfast in South Boston. And the rest of Dorchester's State House delegation showered their campaign funds on local charities and flower shops.
Campaign finance reports, available at the Office of Campaign and Political Finance's website, are a goldmine for political junkies and politicians eager to see where their colleagues and potential opponents stand. They can also be a source of some headaches.
That was the case with State Rep. Marty Walsh, who found out from an Associated Press reporter last fall that he had received $200 from Glenn Marshall, former chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe who was pushing hard for a Middleboro casino when revelations suddenly surfaced of a criminal past and false claims of having fought in the Vietnam War.
"I had no idea he gave me a check," says Walsh, who is backing Gov. Deval Patrick's plan to open three resort casinos.
Deciding to do something positive with funds, Walsh returned that money in November, donating it to the Mashpee Housing Trust Fund.
Even with that return, Walsh has the largest war chest of the Dorchester delegation, with $126,070 in his account at the end of last year, after spending $63,606.
One of the biggest spenders in the delegation is State Sen. Jack Hart, who tore through $160,678 last year. He had $23,778 left at the end of the year, according to state campaign finance records.
The expenditures include $85 for make-up for the St. Patrick's Day breakfast, an annual event that Hart hosts each March. Hart charged the money to Sonja Gjokaj, a Boston-based make-up artist who has also done work on New York Gov. George Pataki, celebrity chef Todd English, and director Ken Burns, according to her website.
Hart also put down $150 for "Legal Services" from law firm Cosgrove, Eisenberg and Kiley. The late August expenditure came after Hart dropped out of the running for the high-profile and well-paid presidency of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.
Hart had attorney Thomas Kiley file a notice with the State Ethics Commission as the State House News Service was about to break the news of his candidacy.
Hart did not return phone calls seeking comment this week.
Among the other Dot legislators: State Rep. Marie St. Fleur finished the year with $12,330 in her account, having spent $60,279. Linda Dorcena Forry, who holds former Rep. Thomas Finneran's seat, spent $20,283, and was left with $37,863 at the end of the year.
One of the new representatives, Willie Mae Allen, spent $2,132, with her balance at $4,294. Her biggest donations were $250 each to Gov. Patrick's inaugural committee and Horizon for Homeless Children in Roxbury.
State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson spent $33,704. She had $27,657 left in her account at the end of the year. Many of the expenditures were for reimbursements to herself, a common practice for elected officials and their staffs.
Lawmakers also spent funds at local businesses. Savin Hill restaurant C.F. Donovan's showed up frequently in several politicians' reports, as did Colleen's Flower Shop on Dorchester Avenue. Phillips Old Colony House on Morrissey Boulevard also did well, including St. Fleur spending $2,521 for food and fundraising in May.
The pol with the smallest bank account? That would be Rep. Brian Wallace, whose account had $526 at the end of last year; he had spent $30,856. He holds one fundraiser a year, he said.
For his part, Wallace donated $550 to the South Boston Neighborhood House and $300 for the South Boston Little League.
Hart donated $100 to the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School. Hart, Forry and St. Fleur each donated $250 to the Caritas Carney Hospital Foundation.
"We give most of that back to the community in some form or another," Wallace said. "I wish I had more. It is what it is."
The reports are available at http://www.mass.gov/ocpf/.