An enigmatic super PAC that took tens of thousands of dollars from the parents of congressional candidate Jake Auchincloss is now leaping into his Fourth District primary, dropping nearly $180,000 in advertising backing the Democrat.
The Experienced Leadership Matters PAC filed paperwork Thursday detailing the ad buy, its first since launching in May with funding from Laurie Glimcher, Auchincloss’s mother and the president of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and his stepfather.
Auchincloss’s father, Hugh Auchincloss — the top deputy to Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — was the group’s single biggest donor as of the end of June, contributing $30,000 that month.
Given its newly disclosed spending, however, it appears the PAC has raised beyond the $90,000 it reported taking in its most recent campaign finance filing. And in a crowded Democratic primary where other candidates are propping up their campaigns with personal loans, the PAC appears to be the first attempt by the family of a candidate to influence the race through independent spending.
Super PACs are barred from giving directly to a campaign, but can raise and spend unlimited amounts in support of or opposition to a candidate.
The group reported Thursday spending roughly $140,000 in television advertising, plus another $38,600 on other media production and advertising, all in support of Auchincloss, a Newton city councilor and US Marine veteran.
It wasn’t immediately clear where or for how long it had booked air time. Auchincloss’s campaign has spent hundreds of thousands of its own on TV spots in both the Boston media market and in the Providence market, which covers the southern end of the serpentine district. Auchincloss also recently touted the endorsement of Fall River’s mayor, as part of his attempt to carve out support along the South Coast in a race dominated by candidates from Brookline or Newton.
The PAC had not previously made its intentions known as it quietly raised money from Auchincloss’s family and supporters. His stepfather, Gregory Petsko, told the Globe this month that “it wouldn’t be surprising” if the PAC helped Auchincloss, but he expressed ignorance about its goals, who is directing the group, or who had solicited donations from him.
Keith D. Lowey, a longtime financial advisor to the late Senator Ted Kennedy who is serving as the PAC’s treasurer, has not returned requests for comment.
The outside spending is among the most significant yet in the nine-person Democratic primary, and adds to the crush of family and personal wealth that has flooded the race. Several candidates have poured tens or hundreds of thousands of their own money into their campaigns, including Ihssane Leckey, a Brookline Democrat who has pulled $800,000 from her and her husband’s personal savings.
Women Vote! — a super PAC associated with EMILY’S List, the powerful political group that supports women running for office who back abortion rights — has also begun to spend heavily in opposition to Auchincloss and Alan Khazei, the cofounder of City Year and a Brookline Democrat in the race.
That PAC reported spending $85,664 on digital ads attacking both Auchincloss and Khazei as candidates who “don’t stand up for women’s reproductive freedom,” and another $66,000 on mailers between Monday and Thursday.
Both Auchincloss and Khazei have dismissed the criticisms as unwarranted.
Matt Stout can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.