Do Fattman, Eldridge donations follow similar pattern?

Sen. Jamie Eldridge of Acton was a big supporter of his former State House aide, Danillo Sena, when Sena ran for a House seat last year.

 According to Sena’s campaign finance report, Eldridge on February 11 personally donated $1,000 to the Sena campaign and Eldridge’s campaign committee donated another $100. Both donations were the maximum allowed under state law.

 On March 24, Eldridge’s campaign committee donated $5,000 to the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee, and a little over a month later the state committee spent $5,950 on a campaign mailing supporting Sena.

 The Eldridge-state committee donation pattern bears a striking resemblance to the donation pattern of Sen. Ryan Fattman of Sutton, whose campaign committee last year donated large sums of money to the state Republican Party and the Sutton Republican Town Committee, both of which in turn made equally large in-kind donations in support of the campaign of Fattman’s wife, Stephanie Fattman, who was running for register of probate in Worcester County.

In Fattman’s case, the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance determined that the transactions ran afoul of the law and referred them to Attorney General Maura Healey for criminal prosecution. In Eldridge’s case, no referral was made. [Clarification: An earlier version of this story said the case was referred to Healey for criminal prosecution. It is unclear what type of prosecution could result.]

Paul Craney, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance and a big supporter of Fattman, believes it’s a case of selective prosecution. He argues that the donations of Fattman and Eldridge were identical in nature and legal – and should be treated the same way.

 The Office of Campaign and Political Finance hasn’t laid out its evidence, but it would appear from what has emerged in public that the office believes Fattman donated to the state Republican Party and the Sutton Republican Town Committee with the understanding that the party and town committee would pass the money along to his wife’s campaign committee. In other words, the arrangement was a way of getting around the $100 limit on donations from one campaign committee to another.

 Eldridge declined to comment on Fattman’s situation or whether he thought his situation and Fattman’s were similar. Eldridge said his campaign committee made the $5,000 donation to the Massachusetts Democratic Party with the hope the party would help Sena but with no assurances that it would.

 “I made the donation, but there was no commitment from the party on how that money would be used,” he said. “In my experience with the Massachusetts Democratic Party, I have found the party extremely focused on following the non-coordination rule.” 

 Fattman has made similar statements.

 The state Democratic Party did go on to provide additional help to Sena’s campaign, spending roughly $1,850 on Facebook ads and $5,922 on another campaign mailing on his behalf.  

Sena went on to win his race, and Stephanie Fattman was reelected to her position.

BRUCE MOHL

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

The South Coast community of Somerset seems to be pulling apart at the seams, as rancor over stop-gap development at Brayton Point prompted the chair of the Board of Selectmen to resign her position a year early, saying she can no longer stand “the hate and venom” that has spread throughout the community. “Civility has been lost in our town,” said Holly McNamara before stepping down. Read more.

Opinion:

Paul Hattis finds reason to believe that Mass General Brigham is serious about developing an integrated hospital system yielding significant operational savings. Read more.

The new climate change law finally codifies the existence of environmental justice communities, a recognition that pollution affects some communities more than others, according to Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, Laurel Sampson, and Srish Khakurel of Lawyers for Civil Rights. Read more.

Susan Lusi of Mass Insight & Education Research says equity in access to advanced academics is vital. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

BEACON HILL

The House passes a $400 million bond bill to fund the construction of a new Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. (MassLive)

Businesses have been given a one-month reprieve from a massive increase in unemployment insurance fees that set to take effect, as lawmakers and the Baker administration look to craft a solution to the spike. (Boston Globe

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer denies the search process for a new school superintendent was triggered, as opponents of the hire are claiming. (Berkshire Eagle)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A change in how the state calculates nursing home deaths from COVID-19 results in a nearly 20 percent decline in the number of fatalities at the facilities attributed to the virus. (Boston Globe

Attorney General Maura Healey said coronavirus vaccine providers cannot turn away people who don’t have ID or proof of insurance coverage. (Boston Herald

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu will lift that state’s mask mandate on Friday. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

US Sen. Ed Markey joins other Democrats in introducing a bill that would increase the number of justices on the US Supreme Court to 13. (Telegram & Gazette)

Eight people died and others were wounded at a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. (CBS4 Indianapolis)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

New jobless claims dropped last week, an indication the labor market in Massachusetts is starting to rebound. (Salem News)

Businesses employing roughly one of ever three workers in the state have opted out of the state’s paid leave program. (GBH)

Westport lawmakers file a bill that could increase the number of slaughterhouses operating in the state. (South Coast Today)

Gaming revenues from the state’s three casinos increased by $16.5 million in March, as casinos get permission to resume some additional games. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

A federal judge ruled that Boston can proceed with its revised plan for awarding seats at the city’s three exam schools that uses student ZIP codes as one factor. (Boston Globe)

Schools reported 1,279 new COVID-19 cases this past week, the highest weekly total so far, as thousands more students have returned to school in person. (MassLive)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

State regulators fine a New Jersey solar energy company and Eversource $310,000 for violating state wetlands regulations while building a solar array in Southampton. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Two convicted killers who received “compassionate release” after developing serious cases of COVID-19 were returned to prison after recovering. (Boston Globe

A review finds former Suffolk County prosecutor Adam Foss’s conduct with interns was “troubling” but not criminal. (MassLive)

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will not testify in his own defense, and his murder trial will go the jury next week. (New York Times