Imagine, if you will, several plain looking men in dark suits and sunglasses walking into Leland Cheung’s campaign office with suitcases full of banded, manicured $100 bills. The money is untraceable and scrubbed of any evidence that might indicate its origins.
“Spend it however you want,” one of the men in black says as he slips off into the night. “No one will know anything about it until after Election Day.”
Maybe that’s a more compelling visual than someone in a cubicle somewhere hitting ‘send’ on a wire transfer, but the effect is the same.
Late last week, a pro-charter school group called “Democrats for Education Reform” quietly filed a report with Massachusetts’ Office of Campaign and Political Finance announcing that they are prepared to spend $200,000 ahead of next Thursday’s Primary Election to help elect Cheung, currently a Cambridge City Councilor, to the state senate.
Where did DFER get that money? All they are required to disclose is that the money was transferred to them by a group out of New York City called Education Reform Now.
Who gave that cash to Education Reform Now? No one knows. That group is incorporated as a 501(c)4 organization and they don’t have to disclose who funds them.
According to the campaign of Sen. Pat Jehlen, the incumbent Cheung is trying to oust, $200,000 is “by far the most money ever spent by an independent expenditure PAC for a Massachusetts legislative race.”
Indeed, most candidates for the legislature can only dream of raising $200,000 in an election cycle.
Update: In the interest of full disclosure I have been asked to note that, in 2014, I was hired by Leland Cheung’s campaign for Lt. Gov. to help him win newspaper endorsements, particularly the endorsement of the Boston Globe. It was a one-month contract.