Mayor Martin J. Walsh received $1.4 million in private donations for his inauguration and transition as he swept into City Hall, with most of the contributions coming from corporations, developers, lobbyists, and others who do business with the city.
Conscious that the festivities would set a tone for his new administration, Walsh established limits. He used no tax dollars for the January inauguration, and he barred money from political action committees and organized labor, although unions hosted a private reception for the new mayor at an inauguration night gala.
The new administration suggested a cap of $25,000 for donors and voluntarily disclosed all contributions and expenditures when requested by The Boston Globe. In an interview, Walsh said that it did not pose a conflict to accept money from companies with interests before the city and that he did not “make one phone call” soliciting donations.
“Honestly, if you asked me today to name five people who gave money for my inauguration, I couldn’t tell you. And that’s a true story,” Walsh said. “I’m going to base my mayoralship on what’s right for the people of Boston, and I’m not going to compromise it for anything or anybody.”
Critics suggested that the issue was not just the money. Big donors got special access to Walsh. The inaugural gala had an exclusive reception separate from the main ballroom. A VIP room was set up for friends, family, and donors who gave at least $15,000. A Walsh spokeswoman said that the inaugural gala became a free-for-all and that no one was barred from the VIP room. A Globe reporter was not able to gain access to the VIP room.
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