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New law identifies Super PAC donors

Steve Grossman

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Steve Grossman

A new state campaign finance law forced the release of the top five donors to a political action committee supporting state Treasurer Steve Grossman’s gubernatorial bid. Among them: his mother.

“I’m not young. I’m old, and I haven’t been able to do anything for the campaign, and I believe in Steve,” Shirley Grossman said in an interview. “I thought it over. I’m 92 years old. What could I do? I can’t go house to house.”

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So, she decided to write a check to the Mass Forward political action committee.

On Monday, she wouldn’t say how much she had contributed, describing it only as “a lot of money.”

Still, the amount should be released by Friday under the new law.

The law, requiring super PACs to disclose all donors and the amounts they contribute, within seven business days, took effect Friday. It also requires the PACs to list their top five contributors on the bottom of television ads.

Super PACs can raise unlimited funds from people, corporations, and labor unions. And because Mass Forward had a commercial titled “Mothers” already airing, it was forced to disclose those top donors right away.

The 30-second, $250,000 ad features four Boston-area mothers holding pictures of their smiling sons, who are now all dead. The ad says Attorney General Martha Coakley is the “wrong choice for governor” because she does not support Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to limit gun buys to one a month.

As of Monday, five names now appear on the bottom of the ad: Shirley Grossman, Richard Slifka, Paul Egerman, Ken Novack, and John McQuillan Jr.

The PAC said the order of the names is not indicative of how much money each person has given.

“Mass Forward was founded and is almost entirely funded by Massachusetts residents who believe that Steve Grossman is the best progressive choice for governor,” a statement released by the super PAC on Monday said.

“Many of our contributors are also major supporters of other progressive and Democratic candidates.”

Other than Shirley Grossman, the names at the bottom of the Mass Forward ad are a common sight on campaign finance reports; the men have given millions of dollars to local, state, and federal candidates and political action committees over the years.

They have contributed to both of the state’s US senators, Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, Governor Patrick, then Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino — and Coakley, one of Grossman’s two Democratic opponents for governor — according to campaign finance reports.

Egerman, a retired software entrepreneur, is chairman of Warren’s finance committee.

Coakley’s campaign has taken Grossman to task for not disavowing what it calls a “shadowy super PAC” and suggested there may have been “collusion” between his camp and the group, which would be illegal. It is a claim the PAC and Grossman’s camp flatly deny.

Grossman’s mother was adamant that there had been no conversations between herself and the candidate about her sizeable donation.

“He has nothing to do with my money. That’s one thing,” she said. “I’m independent of him.”

The acrimonious back-and-forth between Grossman and Coakley did not end Monday, with new allegations of wrongdoing by Coakley’s campaign and denials by the super PAC.

Early Monday, the Coakley campaign complained that the ad was still airing without the donors’ names.

The super PAC said it began working to comply with the new state law “at the open of business” Monday morning, and the updated commercial aired later in the day.

“We aren’t corporations or outside special interests, but Massachusetts citizens and philanthropists,” the PAC said. “Mass Forward continues to abide by all state law[s] no matter what Ms. Coakley says.” Grossman’s campaign declined to comment on the revised television commercial and the disclosure of the donors, including his mother.

Shirley Grossman said Monday that her financial backing of her son’s campaign is her way of loudly voicing her support.

“He’s been a terrific treasurer, and he would make a terrific governor,” she said.

“As a treasurer he doesn’t get much publicity but he’s done awful good. But ask anybody on the street, and they don’t know him.”

Hopefully, she said, the super PAC can change that.

Akilah Johnson
can be reached at ajohnson@globe.com.
Follow her on Twitter @akjohnson1922.
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