Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley on Friday afternoon called on fellow mayoral candidate Marty Walsh to swear off any spending by special interest groups and labor unions on behalf of his campaign — just two days after Walsh declared the so-called Boston Pledge a “political gimmick.”
“The Mayor of Boston needs to be independent,” Conley said in a statement issued Friday afternoon. “Marty Walsh should sign the Pledge and take City Hall off of the auction block.”
Special interest groups and labor unions often spend money on behalf of candidates they support in municipal and state elections. These independent expenditures — which are allowed under a Supreme Court ruling as long as candidates do not coordinate with the outside group doing the spending — allow the groups to spend more money than would be permitted if they donated directly to the campaign.
The infusion of such outside money into the mayor’s race has taken center stage this week after the Globe reported Tuesday that Stand For Children, a national education advocacy nonprofit, planned to spend $500,000 on behalf of John Connolly’s campaign.
But, just days after the pledge was reported, Connolly said he did not want the money and instructed Stand For Children and any other outside groups who endorse him not to spend any money in support of his candidacy.
Connolly then committed to signing the “Boston Pledge,” an agreement being championed by city councilor Rob Consalvo that aims to prevent special interest money from swaying the Boston mayor’s race.
Under the pledge, candidates would be required to match any money spent on their behalf with an equal donation from their campaign accounts to the One Fund, which benefits victims of the marathon bombings.
Multiple candidates — Connolly, Conley, Consalvo, city councilor Felix Arroyo, and Touch 106.1 FM founder Charles Clemons — have either signed the pledge or have said they would be willing to if all of the candidates participate.
That has turned attention to Walsh, widely considered one of the race’s most viable candidates, who has accepted heavy backing from labor unions including Working America, the political organizing arm of the AFL-CIO — which has spent $35,230 to date on behalf of Walsh’s campaign.
“It’s fair to ask why anonymous donors who have never set foot in Boston are spending such vast sums on his behalf and who these donors are,” Conley said in the statement, which is at least the third time he’s issued a missive directly targeting a fellow candidate.
Walsh has previously said he would not sign the pledge or swear off outside money being spent on his behalf, and reiterated that stance in a statement provided by his spokeswoman to the Globe today.
“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,” said S.J. Port, Walsh’s spokeswoman, in a statement. “Marty will not participate in political theater or political gimmicks. He will continue to run an aggressive grassroots campaign to ensure the people of Boston understand what kind of Mayor he will be: open, honest and representative of the working families who live in our great city.”