Governor Charlie Baker’s campaign has canceled a Cape Cod fund-raiser after a public employee was accidentally listed as part of the host committee on an invitation.
Marty Meehan, president of the University of Massachusetts system, was named on an invitation to the Aug. 20 fund-raiser at the Cape Cod home of public relations executive George Regan. Listing Meehan — a public employee who under state law may not solicit campaign contributions — was a mistake, said campaign spokesman Jim Conroy.
After realizing the error, Conroy said, the campaign consulted with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance and determined the cleanest solution would be to cancel the event, returning any donations that had already been received. The fund-raiser will be rescheduled, according to a Friday evening e-mail that campaign finance director Tim O’Leary sent to supporters, though he did not list a date.
Meehan said in a brief phone interview Saturday morning that he had not authorized his name to appear on the invite but declined further comment.
The cancellation comes as the Massachusetts political world waits to see whether Baker will seek a third term, interpreting any tiny signal as a potentially major clue.
The event would have marked a return to a pre-pandemic fund-raising style for Baker, who had just $524,500 in his campaign account at the end of June after spending the COVID-19 pandemic mostly staying away from such events. That sum is a far cry from the roughly $5.9 million he had in the bank at the same point ahead of his 2018 reelection campaign. Baker has said he is discussing the matter with his family and promised a decision “soon.”
The Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito campaigns had invited donors to Regan’s Mashpee home, asking them to contribute $500 or the maximum $1,000 to Baker, Polito, or both. Blues musician James Montgomery was set to perform.
Well-known names listed on the invitation include former Boston Police Commissioner William Gross, auto mogul Herb Chambers, Cape Cod Healthcare chief executive Michael Lauf, and Mintz chairman R. Robert Popeo.
O’Leary wrote to supporters Friday evening saying that “unfortunately, it has become necessary to cancel this event.”
“We will be returning any contributions we receive in connection with this event,” O’Leary wrote. He added that “we will be reaching out in the coming days with a new date for a new event, and hope that you will be able to participate.”
Polito, who had $2.2 million on hand at the end of last month, is widely viewed as a likely candidate for the Republican nomination should Baker choose not to run. That would pit the Shrewsbury Republican against one-time US Senate candidate and former state representative Geoff Diehl, who announced a gubernatorial bid earlier this month.
Allen had the most money available to close June with $339,941, followed by Chang-Díaz ($232,786) and Downing ($117,316).
Hanging over the Democratic field is the question of whether Attorney General Maura Healey, who boasts a national reputation and $3.1 million in her campaign account, will enter the field.
Healey said this week she is weighing her options and “we’ll know more by the fall.”