City Councillor Annissa Essaibi George is distancing herself from one of the two super PACs supporting her mayoral candidacy, saying she’s “not happy” about its ties to former President Donald Trump.
Super PACs, which have flushed more than $2 million into the 2021 mayoral race, can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money but they cannot coordinate with the candidate they support. The candidates are also restricted from coordinating with the super PACs.
One of the two super PACs supporting Essaibi George, “Real Progress Boston,” is headed up by William Gross, the former Boston police commissioner who has endorsed her campaign. The super PAC’s ad started airing this week, with its top donors revealed to be police unions and James Davis, the chairman of New Balance, the shoemaker based in Brighton.
After this story was posted on Thursday, the super PAC filed a fundraising and spending report with campaign finance regulators. Davis donated $395,00, while J. Derenzo Co. donated $50,000. NEI General Contracting donated $25,000. Two police unions, the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society and the Boston Police Superior Offices Federation, each kicked in $5,000. The total came to $480,000.
Through a spokesperson, Davis declined comment.
The super PAC reported spending $420,387 on radio and TV ads, with Regan Communications Group receiving $57,000 for media placement and production costs. The super PAC is spending to air the ad on WHDH-TV, WCVB, NBC, and CBS, among others.
In its original filing with state campaign regulators last week, the super PAC listed a phone number for Gross that led to Red Curve Solutions, a Beverly-based Republican firm that has worked for the Trump campaign. After the Reporter noted the number, an amendment to the filing swapped in a phone number linked to Bulldog Compliance, a division of Red Curve that focuses on super PACs and worked on the 2018 campaign to protect a Massachusetts transgender anti-discrimination law from a repeal effort.
Founded in 2008, Red Curve served as the treasurer for Donald J. Trump for President and two joint fundraising committees, Trump Victory and Trump Make America Great Again.
Trump frequently attacked immigrants while on the campaign trail and pushed anti-immigrant policies while in the White House.
“I hope that the voters of Boston and the residents of the city know who I am,” Essaibi George told the Reporter. “I’m the daughter of immigrants, I am a first-generation American, I am the daughter of an Arab Muslim. So this connection to the former president for me is one that is gross.”
Essaibi George noted she was the first elected official to back Ayanna Pressley in her 2018 Congressional run, she endorsed US Sen. Ed Markey when he faced a challenge from US Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a former prosecutor, and her campaign manager, Cam Charbonnier, served as the Massachusetts state director for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.
“We’ve gotten a number of calls and some folks have reached out about this [super PAC’s] connection [to Trump],” she said.
“I’m not happy about it,” she said of the connection.
But Essaibi George, who said Wednesday night that she had not yet seen the TV ad that the super PAC started airing, said she welcomes Gross’s endorsement and support. “I worked with him obviously for a long time in my capacity as a city councillor,” she added. “I was surprised to learn of his affiliation with that PAC.”
The “Real Progress Boston” super PAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Davis, the multibillionaire owner of New Balance and one of the super PAC’s top donors, has donated to Trump, as well as Democrats like former mayor Marty Walsh. All five of the major candidates running to succeed Walsh are Democrats. Municipal elections do not involve party primaries.
The second super PAC supporting Essaibi George, known as “Bostonians for Real Progress,” is focused on digital advertising. It has drawn donations from a Hyde Park businessman who runs an auto shop and towing company, and a Wellesley financial analyst.
This story was updated at 5:28 p.m. Thursday with new information from the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF).