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Healey raised $1.8 million, tapping major developers and lobbyists, to fund inaugural party

Governor Maura Healey celebrates with the crowd Thursday at the end of her inaugural celebration.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Governor Maura Healey has raised nearly $1.8 million to fund her inaugural party, accepting hefty donations from developers, energy companies, and an array of lobbyists with clients that have business before the state.

The Cambridge Democrat reported accepting more than 150 donations last month, with most of the money — more than $1.3 million — flowing from 53 donors that gave at Healey’s self-imposed maximum of $25,000, a new disclosure shows.

They included the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Suffolk Construction, Boston Global Investors, the Kraft Group, and Global Partners, a Waltham-based fuel distributor, among others. At least a dozen registered lobbyists gave anywhere between $5,000 and $25,000. The A.D. Makepeace Co., which touts itself as the world’s largest cranberry grower and the largest private property owner in Eastern Massachusetts, also gave the maximum — as did two companies under it.

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Healey’s inaugural committee filed the donor list with state campaign finance regulators shortly before 10 p.m. on Thursday, a little more than two hours before the statutory deadline and roughly 90 minutes after the celebration at the TD Garden, which featured a performance by folk-pop singer Brandi Carlile.

Under state law, individuals can’t give more than $1,000 to a candidate’s campaign each year, lobbyists are limited to $200, and businesses are barred completely from donating to a candidate. But inaugural committees aren’t bound by such restrictions, nor are they required to disclose expenditures.

Aides to Healey have yet to provide a projected cost for the celebration, though a spokeswoman for the committee said Friday that it would report a total cost “when final.” The number of donations also could grow: The report Healey’s committee filed covered only through the end of December.

High-dollar donations to an inaugural committee often run the risk of raising red flags, said Geoff Foster, the executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, a good-government watchdog. But the state requirement that governors and others must disclose who is footing the bill helps the public and watchdogs track whether donors later receive special treatment, he said.

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“We hope that that won’t happen,” Foster said. “Fundamentally, no one wants to feel like an elected official can be purchased — not the public, not groups like ours, and not elected officials.”

Appearing at the State House on Friday, Healey declined to address a question about how she would guarantee to the public that donors would not hold influence over her decisions going forward.

“Today is about the administration of government,” she said after her first Cabinet meeting. She referred questions to her inaugural committee “about anything related to last night’s events.”

Kate Norton, a spokeswoman for the committee, said Healey’s inaugural party was funded entirely by private donations and did not rely on any taxpayer dollars.

“Governor Healey has a long track record of holding corporations accountable for wrongdoing and standing up for the people of Massachusetts,” Norton said in a statement.

Facing no additional restriction beyond Healey’s overall cap, lobbyists gave often to her committee. Dempsey Associates contributed $25,000, while a range of others — Kearney, Donovan & McGee, Rasky Partners, Tremont Strategies Group, and more — contributed $10,000.

Several companies that Healey, as attorney general, either investigated, sued, or reached settlements with also contributed. CVS Pharmacy, with which Healey last month announced an agreement to resolve allegations that it contributed to the opioid crisis, gave $25,000, as did Comcast, with which Healey reached a settlement in 2018 over allegations the company violated state consumer protection law.

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Grubhub, which she sued alleging it charged illegally high fees to Massachusetts restaurants, gave $10,000. Santander, which Healey settled with last year for more than $5.5 million over subprime auto loans, contributed $5,000.

Several unions also gave big — with 1199SEIU’s PAC and IBEW Local 103 each giving $25,000 — as did energy companies. Vicinity Energy donated $10,000 while the Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources gave $25,000.

A former college and professional basketball player, Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll — herself a former college basketball player — held a basketball-themed inauguration night celebration dubbed “Moving the Ball Forward.”

Eddie Palladino, the Boston Celtics’ public address announcer, was the emcee, and Bryan Rafanelli, the finance co-chair for Healey’s campaign and an events planner whose company has handled weddings for Chelsea Clinton and Naomi Biden, produced it. Attendees could also take home free gear, including foam fingers with the phrase “Team Up, Massachusetts.”

The committee also held a series of regional events in the days beforehand, including a toy giveaway in Springfield and a food and coat drive in Worcester on Monday, a school supply giveaway in Taunton and a meal giveaway in Yarmouth on Tuesday, and a “family support drive” Wednesday in Lowell.

Outgoing Governor Charlie Baker raised a record $2.4 million to fund a slate of events around his first inauguration in 2015, which aides initially estimated would cost $1 million, and then later, $1.6 million. Former governor Deval Patrick raised $1.9 million for his 2007 celebration, for which the Democrat sought donations up to $50,000.

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Healey’s predecessors had put additional guardrails on their own fund-raising. Patrick, who had long criticized Beacon Hill’s insider culture, banned contributions from Big Dig contractors, tobacco companies, gambling firms, and firearms companies. His predecessor, Mitt Romney, had refused donations from tobacco and gambling interests.

Baker put a $200 limit on donations from lobbyists for both of his inaugural parties.

Samantha J. Gross of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him @mattpstout.