Paying for politicians with pizza and postage

Massachusetts political campaigns don’t rely just on cash contributions. They also receive tons of noncash aid from supporters — free signs, postage, pizza, you name it.

Overall, state and major local campaigns in Massachusetts reported receiving more than $35 million of “in-kind” donations since 2002, according to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Raise Up Massachusetts, a group supporting increasing the minimum wage and mandating paid sick time, received use of a marching band (estimated to be worth $1,000) from Boston Mobilization, a union organization, in December. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, a Democratic state representative from Gloucester, reported receiving nearly $500 worth of lobster rolls and appetizers for a fund-raiser in Gloucester from the president of Legal Sea Foods, Roger Berkowitz, in November.


In some cases, supporters donate colorful items to auction off at fund-raisers. A Bourne resident donated a haircut worth $25 to former Republican state Senate candidate Thomas Keyes’s campaign, which raffled it off at a fund-raiser in 2012. And the Quincy Republican City Committee received $260 in “genealogy research” services for its auctions over the past two years. Most state lawmakers have yet to file campaign reports for the 2014 campaigns, but more in-kind donations are sure to turn up then.

Todd Wallack

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