Report: Outside groups spent more than candidates for governor in 2014 Massachusetts election

Associated Press

Outside political action committees raised and spent more on last year's race for governor than the candidates themselves, according to a new report from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

The report released Friday found that outside groups — mostly so-called super PACs — dumped $20.4 million into the election, about double the amount they spent during the last statewide elections in 2010.

Continue Reading Below

More than half of the 2014 money — $11 million — went to help elect Republican Charlie Baker governor. That's almost twice the $5.6 million Baker reported spending on his election from his campaign account.

Democratic candidate Martha Coakley benefited from just under $7 million in outside group spending. The former attorney general spent $3.9 million from her campaign account.

Both candidates also benefited from so-called in-kind donations — $1.2 million for Baker and $2 million for Coakley — almost all of it from the state parties for each candidate.

Last year's statewide election was the first in Massachusetts in which super PACs played a role.

Independent expenditure super PACs and other groups can support or oppose candidates but are barred from coordinating with candidates' campaign committee. The groups also can accept unlimited donations.

Super PACs accounted for nearly all spending by independent groups in 2014 — $19.2 million.

Just two super PACs — the Commonwealth Future Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee and the Mass Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee — accounted for most of the spending.

The Commonwealth Future super PAC reported spending $10.4 million to benefit Baker. The super PAC was bankrolled by the Republican Governors Association, which contribute all but $20,000 of the total.

The Mass super PAC reported spending $6.2 million. It collected the money from a range of Democratic-leaning groups including the Democratic Governors Association, Emily's List — a national organization that promotes Democratic women in politics — and labor unions including the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Coakley narrowly lost the race to Baker.

The governor's race in 2010 pitted Baker against Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick. The outside group that spent the most that year again was again the Republican Governors Association, which doled out $4.6 million to support Baker.

Bay State Future, a group backed by the Democratic Governors Association, spent nearly $3.2 million to support Patrick. Another big spender was the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which spent $2.9 million supporting Patrick's successful re-election bid.

Super PACs originated in 2010 after two court decisions.

In the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United vs. FEC decision, the court — citing First Amendment free speech rights — ruled independent expenditures by corporations made to influence candidate elections cannot be limited. A second U.S. Appeals Court decision found that individuals, corporations and other groups can provide unlimited funds to super PACs.

___

Online: http://www.ocpf.us/Reports/IndependentExpenditurePacReports