Political Circuit

Moran cancels first D.C. fund-raiser as questions raised about conflict

February 13, 2011

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State Representative Michael J. Moran, the House leader in redrawing the state’s new congressional districts, has abruptly canceled a Washington fund-raiser as critics called it a blatant conflict of interest.

The cancellation came just an hour after Channel 5 raised questions late last week about why Moran, who had never before held a fund-raiser in Washington, was getting help in securing a venue for the event from US Representative Michael E. Capuano, just days before he is scheduled to hold meetings with the state’s congressional delegation, including Capuano.

The gatherings with the delegation are supposed to inform Moran as he helps craft new congressional districts, following US Census figures that will reduce the Massachusetts delegation from 10 to 9. Moran has promised a transparent process that gives as much access to regular citizens as it does to power players.

A Capuano spokeswoman downplayed his involvement. “Congressman Capuano’s only role was in helping a friend who is not familiar with Washington venues choose a location,’’ she said.

Not everyone saw it that way.

“It’s amazing that neither Representative Moran nor Congressman Capuano could see the obvious conflict of interest this fund-raiser presented until after Channel 5 started asking questions,’’ GOP chairwoman Jennifer Nassour said in a statement. “Now maybe they will see that private meetings between the Massachusetts congressional delegation and the cochairman of the Legislature’s redistricting commission present the appearance of a rigged game.’’

Moran responded with a statement promising a transparent and inclusive process.

“While nothing inappropriate was done, I will not allow any negative perceptions to infiltrate the redistricting process,’’ he said.

— Noah Bierman

Yancey renews call for more TV coverage of CouncilThe public needs more Council. More Boston City Council that is. At night and on weekends.

City Councilor Charles C. Yancey (left) made his annual push last week to expand cable television’s coverage of Boston’s legislative branch.

Comcast currently shows live hearings and replays of meetings from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. But the coverage, which recently moved back to channel 12, does not satisfy the public’s thirst for council news, Yancey believes.

“The question is when can the working people of Boston observe the work of their legislative branch?’’ Yancey asked during the Council’s weekly Wednesday meeting. As he spoke, the camera held tight on the councilor, who stood at his desk and motioned off screen, to what could have been a crowded council chamber.

In truth, only eight of the 153 seats in the public gallery were occupied. At least three were taken by city employees paid to be at the meeting. Another was a newspaper reporter with his laptop. A fifth was a woman engrossed in a crossword puzzle in her lap.

“I know we have a few seats empty right now,’’ Yancey said as he smiled for the camera. “But the public only has the ability to view the City Council on television between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.’’

— Andrew Ryan

Statewide candidates spent $30.4 million on 2010 election campaignsCandidates for the marquee constitutional offices in Massachusetts spent just over $30 million on their campaigns during the recently completed election cycle, according to new state figures.

The figures do not take into account spending by outside interest groups. The Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association were among the third parties active in support of their candidates.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance said candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and auditor spent a total of $30.4 million in the 2009-2010 election cycle.

In 2010, the election year itself, fund-raising totaled $25.5 million.

The candidates for governor spent $17.6 million, which was a 58 percent drop from a record-breaking $42.3 million in 2006.

Republican Charles Baker led all gubernatorial candidates in total spending in 2010, reporting $6.7 million in expenditures.

The winner, Governor Deval Patrick, the Democratic incumbent, spent $5.4 million. That was $3.5 million less than what he spent as a first-time candidate in 2006.

Former treasurer Timothy Cahill spent $4.8 million as an independent candidate for governor. He was the only candidate for governor to get public financing from the State Election Campaign Fund, receiving $661,532.

The campaign finance office based its findings on an analysis of campaign finance reports listing receipt and expenditure activity for 23 candidates from Jan. 1, 2009, to Nov. 15, 2010.

While overall spending was down in 2010 from 2006, three of the six statewide races saw increased spending: attorney general, treasurer, and auditor.

— Glen Johnson

Tweet of the week State Senator Cynthia Stone Creem (@cindycreem) of Newton reminded us on Thursday that every elected official dreams of political greatness, even if it only lasts until second period: “Can’t wait to be acting president of the US at Brown Middle School tomorrow for their bill signing session!’’