Organizers of One Boston, the mysterious political action committee that dumped $480,000 into the Boston mayoral campaign during its final days, confirmed to the Globe today that the American Federation of Teachers funded the group’s efforts to swing the race in favor of Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh.
In a complicated series of transactions, the AFT — a powerful national teachers union — gave the money to One New Jersey, a teachers union-backed political action committee. That group then donated those funds to One Boston, a local affiliate set up to spend money in the Boston mayoral race.
One Boston used that money for a pro-Walsh television commercial that ran during the final week of the mayoral race.
“We share the same values as Marty Walsh. That’s why we produced this positive, issues-oriented commercial,” said Joshua Henne, a spokesman for One New Jersey, which has previously opposed candidates who clash with teachers unions — most notably New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
“Boston’s middle class and working families are fortunate to have a mayor like Marty Walsh on their side,” Henne said.
The sudden appearance of One Boston-funded ads — which cropped up during the race’s final week — without disclosure of the money’s origins outraged government watchdog groups and prompted calls from both Walsh and his opponent, John R. Connolly, for the group to reveal the identity of its donors.
The only name listed in documents associated with the group is Jocelyn Hutt, a 55-year-old woman from Roslindale who, city records show, had not voted in three of Boston’s past four municipal elections. It remains unclear what role Hutt played in setting up One Boston as well as if she is linked formally to One New Jersey.
Because New Jersey has less stringent campaign finance disclosure laws than Massachusetts, One New Jersey is not required to disclose where its money came from. A spokesman, however, said all the money given to One Boston came from AFT.
AFT leadership was outspoken in its opposition to Connolly’s candidacy — with its president Randi Weingarten often taking to Twitter during the campaign to praise Walsh and criticize Connolly and the education reform groups that backed him. During his time on the city council, Connolly had a history of clashes with the Boston Teachers Union, which was among his harshest critics during the race.
“In the last days of the campaign, we were solicited by an independent expenditure campaign and decided it was the quickest and most efficient way for us to ensure that working families had a voice in deciding Boston’s next mayor,” said Michael Powell, an AFT spokesman, in a statement provided to the Globe this afternoon.
“That contribution funded a positive TV ad in support of Walsh,” he said. “We stand by the ad and, while we leave it to others to decide, we think the ad made a difference in helping to elect Marty Walsh.”
One Boston was one of three outside groups that spent heavily on behalf of Walsh, whose mayoral victory was in part buoyed by independent expenditures from labor-affiliated groups.
Working America, the political arm of the AFL-CIO, dumped more than $665,000 into the race on behalf of Walsh. Another group, American Working Families, disclosed earlier this week that almost all of the $1.2 million it spent on Walsh’s behalf came from labor unions.
The heavy involvement and spending by outside groups — unleashed as a result of the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court — alarmed watchdogs and became a major narrative during the campaign.
State law allows political action committees that spent money on behalf of the candidates to wait until January, more than two months after voters cast ballots, to disclose the source of that cash.
In total, $2.5 million was spent via independent expenditures on Walsh’s behalf, compared with $1.3 million spent on Connolly’s behalf, exclusively from national education reform groups.