Stand for Children, an education reform group, was poised Wednesday to spend $500,000 to benefit the Boston mayoral campaign of City Councilor John Connolly. The candidate, however, had different plans and publicly rejected the outside spending during a press conference outside City Hall.
"I don't need an advertising blitz to speak on my behalf. I'll let my record speak for itself," Connolly said.
Fellow Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Rob Consalvo has pushed the other 11 candidates in the race to succeed Mayor Thomas Menino to sign a "People's Pledge" to penalize campaigns when an outside group spends money on their behalf. At his press conference, Connolly rejected the call for him to sign on to the pledge, which has also been taken up by candidate and Suffolk DA Daniel Conley.
"I'm not going to get involved in political gimmicks. I've just made my own pledge that I think speaks loudly and clearly about the fact that I won't accept any money from independent expenditure groups and I don't want them to spend any money on my behalf," said Connolly when asked if he would sign the pledge. He later reversed course and joined Consalvo and District Attorney Dan Conley in signing the pledge.
Soon after Connolly's press conference, Stand for Children Executive Director Jason Williams said, "We respect John Connolly's request that we not advertise on his behalf," and said the organization would stay focused on "the issues central to our mission."
Rep. Marty Walsh, a Dorchester Democrat running for the seat, knocked the exercise as a “political gimmick.”
Consalvo has pushed the pledge, similar to the “People’s Pledge” that was agreed to in last year's U.S. Senate race, seeking to discourage outside spending through an agreement where the beneficiaries of third-party ads pay a contribution to the One Fund.
The phenomena is a home-grown response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United, which freed up electoral spending by corporations and unions.
In dismissing the proposal, Walsh, a former official at the Boston Building Trades who has received significant financial support from unions, pointed to Connolly dismissing the pledge as a gimmick before reversing course and agreeing to the pledge.
“That was a great bit of political theater this morning. I’m still a little bit confused about where John Connolly stands, but I know this: he was right this morning when he said that the pledge was nothing more than a political gimmick. Unlike John Connolly, I felt that way this morning and I haven’t changed my mind,” said Walsh.
He said, “It is important to understand that no campaign is in a position to coordinate with those who make Independent Expenditures. The Supreme Court ruling makes that very clear. I will not participate in political theater or political gimmicks. I will continue to run an aggressive grassroots campaign to ensure the people of Boston understand what kind of Mayor I will be: open, honest and representative of the working families who live in our great city.”