The Race for City Hall

American Working Families launches new ad supporting Walsh

An independent political group today launched a new television ad touting mayoral hopeful Martin J. Walsh. The spot from the Virginia-based American Working Families began airing on Boston broadcast and cable TV stations, the group said.

The organization spent at least $218,000 to air the ad through Oct. 20, according to two people with knowledge of the ad buy.

Outside groups have now spent more than $1 million supporting Walsh during the mayoral race, vastly outpacing the about $60,000 of outside spending supporting his opponent, Councilor John R. Connolly, according to state filings.

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American Working Families reported Wednesday that it spent $123,000 on behalf of Walsh from Sept. 23 through today, increasing its total reported expenditures supporting him to almost $523,000, according to filings with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

The group is not legally required to disclose its donors until after the mayoral election, although records show it did receive $5,000 in September from a local union that has endorsed Walsh.

Though the group has previously criticized Connolly on Twitter, the new ad is positive and includes a graphic calling Walsh “A progressive mayor for Boston’s future.”

“It’s an independent expenditure. By law, we’re prohibited from coordinating with them on this type of thing,” said Walsh spokeswoman Kate Norton. “Personally, I think it’s a great ad.”

Connolly spokeswoman Natasha Perez said: This election should decided by the voters of Boston and not by Super PACs from Virginia.”

American Working Families organized in Massachusetts as an independent expenditure political action committee in July. It listed its address as a post office box at a UPS store in Alexandria, Va., according to records with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Bud Jackson, the chairman and treasurer of the group, is the only person identified on American Working Families paperwork. He runs the Jackson Group Media, which maintains a website that describes him as a Democratic consultant who advises candidates, organizations, and corporations in strategic communication, campaign strategy, and grass-roots organizing.

Under Massachusetts law, American Working Families will not have to disclose its donor list until January, after the mayoral election. One area union—Service Employees International Union Local 509—disclosed in a state filing that it gave American Working Families $5,000 to support Walsh. Members of Local 509 work with the elderly, at-risk children, and people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities, according to the union’s website.

American Working Families endorsed Elizabeth Warren in her bid to unseat Scott Brown in last year’s US Senate race, but the group stayed on the sidelines because both candidates signed a pledge disavowing outside spending. City Councilor Rob Consalvo pushed a similar pledge in the mayor’s race.

Connolly initially rejected the pledge as a gimmick, but changed course when the education group Stand for Children vowed to spend more than $500,000 on his behalf. After accepting the endorsement, Connolly asked Stand for Children and other outside groups to stop spending money on his behalf. He ultimately signed Consalvo’s pledge.

Outside groups had spent $63,500 on behalf of Connolly but have reported no further spending since the candidate asked them to cease activities in August, according to filings with the state.

Walsh refused to sign Consalvo’s pledge and has benefited the most from outside spending, much of it connected to organized labor.

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