Brown’s bipartisan money

SEN. SCOTT BROWN has staked his reelection efforts to the notion of bipartisanship. When Brown talks about being a bipartisan senator, he’s talking about voting with Democrats on Capitol Hill. But there’s another way to measure Brown’s crossover appeal – in his campaign receipts. His claims add up by this measure, too. Brown is defending Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat with significant financial support from Democratic fundraisers, including a number who had backed Martha Coakley over Brown two years ago.

Ralph de la Torre, the Steward Health Care executive who hosted a fundraiser in 2010 for President Barack Obama at his Newton home, has given thousands of dollars to Brown’s reelection campaign. So has Joe Baerlein, a prominent Democratic lobbyist whose firm has close ties to Vice President Joe Biden; James Karam, a South Coast developer and ally of Gov. Deval Patrick; Robert Popeo, a prominent attorney who has donated to Democrats Joe Kennedy III, John Tierney, and Ed Markey this year; and John Connors III, an advertising executive who has donated $60,800 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee over the past two years, but who is backing Brown’s reelection efforts.

The Coakley-to-Brown campaign finance crossover runs deep. They share more than $1 million in donations from common donors in Massachusetts – campaign donations from donors who backed Coakley two years ago, but who have backed Brown this time around.

CommonWealth compared all contributions in excess of $500 to Coakley’s Senate campaign (2009-2010) to a list of similarly-sized contributions to Brown in the 2011-2012 election cycle. (We looked at in-state donors only. The data is through mid-August, the last date for which sortable data was available from the Federal Election Commission.)

The two campaigns share a pool of hundreds of donors. This pool of shared donors gave more than $444,000 to Coakley’s federal campaign, and have contributed nearly $600,000 to Brown’s campaign against Elizabeth Warren.

The shift to Brown has been especially pronounced among former Coakley donors who work in financial services. The sector has lined up in opposition to Warren, a longtime critic of Wall Street. Former Coakley donors from investment, insurance, and private equity firms, including Fidelity Investments, MassMutual, Brown Brothers Harriman, Liberty Mutual, Credit Suisse, and UBS, have steered $112,000 into Brown’s campaign coffers. In 2009 and 2010, this same group of donors sent $71,000 to Coakley.

Brown has also pocketed $133,000 from construction and real estate executives who previously bankrolled the Coakley campaign (Robert Beal, Suffolk Construction’s John Fish, and Fan Pier developer Joe Fallon top that list), along with $68,000 from lawyers and $89,000 from health care and life sciences workers who had backed Coakley.

The health care group is headlined by Steward executives de la Torre, Michael Callum, and Joseph Maher, whose households have steered more than $28,000 into Brown’s campaign, after feeding nearly $19,000 into Coakley’s.

According to the Globe’s profile of de la Torre, he was a registered Republican until 2007, favoring the party’s foreign policy stances. But then he changed his registration to Independent and several years later, after assuming leadership of the Caritas Christi chain of hospitals, began funneling money to Democrats because of their commitment to overhauling health care. His enthusiasm for Democrats continued in 2010 after Caritas Christi was melded into Steward, which is owned by the New York private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

Meet the Author

Paul McMorrow

Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Paul McMorrow

Paul McMorrow comes to CommonWealth from Banker & Tradesman, where he covered commercial real estate and development. He previously worked as a contributing editor to Boston magazine, where he covered local politics in print and online. He got his start at the Weekly Dig, where he worked as a staff writer, and later news and features editor. Paul writes a frequent column about real estate for the Boston Globe’s Op-Ed page, and is a regular contributor to BeerAdvocate magazine. His work has been recognized by the City and Regional Magazine Association, the New England Press Association, and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. He is a Boston University graduate and a lifelong New Englander.

About Paul McMorrow

Paul McMorrow comes to CommonWealth from Banker & Tradesman, where he covered commercial real estate and development. He previously worked as a contributing editor to Boston magazine, where he covered local politics in print and online. He got his start at the Weekly Dig, where he worked as a staff writer, and later news and features editor. Paul writes a frequent column about real estate for the Boston Globe’s Op-Ed page, and is a regular contributor to BeerAdvocate magazine. His work has been recognized by the City and Regional Magazine Association, the New England Press Association, and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. He is a Boston University graduate and a lifelong New Englander.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

During this most recent election cycle, de la Torre has given donations to a handful of Democrats but has also given money to Republican congressional candidate Richard Tisei and raised large amounts of money for Brown, who ran for office pledging to be the deciding vote against Obamacare.

De la Torre has hosted two fundraisers for Brown, one on Nov. 18, 2011, at the offices of Steward’s lobbying firm, Edwards Wildman & Palmer LLC, and another on July 13, 2012, at de la Torre’s Cape Cod home. Overall, Steward employees have donated nearly $41,000 to Brown’s election and only $2,500 to Warren’s this election cycle.