For years, Maura Healey has said she is a Bostonian, living first in Charlestown before last year moving to the South End. As of Tuesday afternoon, the governor-elect’s campaign website said she lives in Boston. State campaign records had, too.
But in reality, Healey quietly moved to Cambridge months before her election victory last week, a relocation she had not shared with campaign finance officials, the general public, and even some supporters.
Even now, aides to the attorney general can’t say whether she will return to Boston, though they are calling her move to an apartment in Porter Square temporary. The Democrat relocated there in July, according to her campaign, and registered to vote in Cambridge on Aug. 9, election officials in that city said.
It’s unclear why Healey appeared to keep her current residency under wraps. By not moving more quickly to notify campaign finance officials, the state’s chief law enforcement officer appears to have violated state law, a misstep Healey’s campaign said was unintentional. More broadly, good government experts say, the lack of disclosure keeps from the public a basic, but vital piece of information.
Knowing where an elected official lives can help the public better understand what factors may influence an official’s decision-making or frame their priorities, these experts argue. Not being transparent about even that small of a detail also can “speak to one’s credibility,” said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition.
“We should expect full transparency from our governor,” Silverman said. “When someone in elected office tells us that they’re living in a particular city, we deserve to know if that’s true or not.”
In response to Globe questions this week, Healey’s campaign said she had “temporarily” moved to Richdale Avenue in Cambridge because the apartment she was renting on Savoy Street in the South End was under renovation.
Healey no longer has a lease there, and an adviser said it’s unclear whether she will move back to Boston permanently or even where she will live once she takes office in January.
“Since it was a temporary move, we did not publicize the new location,” Karissa Hand, a Healey spokeswoman, said of relocating to Cambridge. “She will be assessing where it makes most sense to reside and the public will know the governor-elect’s residence as she takes office.”
How many people knew she moved outside of close campaign aides is unclear. Healey did not widely tell media organizations, which have continually described her as living in Boston, the Globe included through and after her historic victory last Tuesday. At no point did the Healey campaign attempt to correct the Globe’s reporting of her place of residence.
Even Democrats close to the governor-elect gave no indication in interviews with the Globe in the days since her election that they were aware she actually now lives across the Charles River. Instead, supporters and allies described the potential positive impact that having a governor who lives in Boston could make on the city and its priorities.
In order to qualify for the ballot, every party candidate must submit an enrollment certificate, showing where he or she is a registered voter. Healey did so on May 6, attesting that she lived in Boston, state officials said.
A month after switching her registration from Boston to Cambridge, Healey appeared on the September primary ballot, where she was still identified as living in Boston’s South End. Deb O’Malley, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office said in August, it would have been too late for Healey to change her address on the ballot that voters received. That deadline was June 7.
There also would have been “no need” for Healey to file a new enrollment certificate ahead of the general election, O’Malley said, because Healey ran on a ticket alongside Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, meaning neither of their addresses was listed on the ballot.
Before the Globe raised questions about Healey’s residency, her campaign had yet to notify the Office of Campaign and Political Finance of her change of address. That appears to be a violation of state law, which requires candidates tell OCPF of an address change within 10 days. The office then would update a candidate’s publicly available records.
Healey’s campaign said that it believed the 10-day rule applied to the address for the campaign committee, not her residential address. Aides said they had notified OCPF on Tuesday of the address change, and her campaign finance records reflected the change by Tuesday evening.
It’s unclear whether Healey could face legal ramifications for failing to update OCPF sooner. Speaking generally, a spokesman for OCPF said state officials consider any potential violations of the law on a case-by-case basis, “with the ultimate goal of resolving whatever the issue is.” The law itself does not include any specific penalties or fines for failing to notify the office of the change within the 10-day window.
Elected officials from the local level to federal office have long made their homes addresses public, however uncomfortable that could be.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s Roslindale neighborhood saw months of vocal demonstrations from critics of her COVID-19 policies, who gathered early in the morning outside her home to bang drums, blow whistles, and shout their opposition.
Protesters also regularly visited Governor Charlie Baker’s Swampscott home during his tenure, at one point prompting his wife, Lauren, to seek a civil harassment prevention order against a man who led a protest that included leaving needles on the sidewalk in front of their home.
Seven people were arrested last fall after climate change protesters hauled a pink sailboat with “Climate Emergency” painted on its side to the front of Baker’s home and refused to move.
Massachusetts is one of just five states that doesn’t provide a designated residence for its governor. A state law that passed in 2017 instead entitles the governor to a $65,000 housing allowance.
Emma Platoff of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Matt Stout can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.