scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Healey created a nonprofit to bankroll her transition into office. But, the donors are secret, and so is how much they gave her.

Governor Maura Healey sits in her ceremonial office during a Globe interview in April.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

In the days after her Election Day victory last year, Governor Maura Healey created a tax-exempt group, headed by a veteran Democratic operative, to raise money and “facilitate” her transition into the corner office.

But the source of those funds remains a secret, which, while legal, means Massachusetts residents have little idea of whether someone sought to curry favor with the new administration by helping bankroll her early hiring process and, disclosures show, a retreat for Healey and dozens of appointees months after her swearing-in.

Healey advisers have declined to provide details about the group, known as Healey-Driscoll Transition, Inc., including the names of its donors, a full accounting of its expenses, or how much it has raised to date. As a 501(c)(4), or a so-called social welfare organization, it’s exempt from paying taxes, and it is generally not required to publicly disclose the name of its contributors under IRS rules.

Healey’s use of a nonprofit to fund the transition is not unprecedented. At least two of her predecessors, including Governor Charlie Baker, also created a nonprofit during the transition process. Baker’s group reported raising and spending $242,200 the year he took office; a publicly available filing gives little detail about what that money was spent on.


But Healey has said she intends to break from her predecessors on what is, and is not, disclosed to the public. For example, her aides have said she would bring “more transparency to the governor’s office than ever before,” especially when it comes to providing public records — a promise good-government advocates have already questioned.

Healey’s transition-related nonprofit was designed to “assist, facilitate, and otherwise support” the Cambridge Democrat’s transition, according to state filings, but it’s also spent money well past her inauguration day. In May, it helped pay for Healey, Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, and two dozen of Healey’s senior staff and Cabinet members to attend a two-day retreat at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge, where they could “align on expectations” and get to know one another, according to an ethics disclosure Healey filed.


The nonprofit group covered $600 in food and executive coaching sessions, per person, for 26 people — or at least $15,600 in total, according to disclosures the Globe obtained through a public records request.

Jack Corrigan, an attorney and longtime Democratic operative, is listed as president of the transition nonprofit, though neither he nor any other officers were paid, according to Healey aides. Efforts to reach Corrigan were not successful this week.

“Like Governor Baker previously, Governor Healey established a non-profit transition committee to help build the new administration, all without relying on taxpayer dollars,” Corey Welford, a Healey spokesperson, said in a statement. The committee paid for the retreat where Healey and staff could “engage in team building and strategic planning exercises that are fundamental to a successful administration.”

“The administration has had a highly successful first six months building a more affordable, competitive, and equitable state — and that work continues,” Welford said.

The use of the nonprofit quickly raised concerns among attorneys and good-government groups. Gregory V. Sullivan, an attorney and president of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said because the group appears to be “participating in governmental activities” — helping fund the retreat for Healey and her top aides — Healey should be transparent about its donors.


“If indeed this organization contributed to state officials going to an event, the public should know who is providing this funding,” Sullivan said. “The public should know where the money comes from and where the money goes — pure and simple.”

Healey advisers said the nonprofit “supported” the hiring process for the new administration as well as the work of a range of policy groups Healey created during the weeks between her election day and her swearing-in to generate ideas on housing, economic development, and transportation, among other areas.

In December, Karissa Hand, a Healey aide, said the committee’s “transition fund” would also help pay Krauthamer & Associates, the firm Healey tapped in December to find the MBTA’s next permanent general manager. The search ended with Phillip Eng being named the T’s new leader in March, but Healey advisers now said it was the T, not the nonprofit, that footed the bill.

State records show the MBTA paid Krauthamer & Associates $72,000 in December.

Geoff Foster, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said while Healey’s use of the nonprofit is legal, it’s an example of why the state needs stronger disclosure laws to dispel any appearance of undue influence on an elected official.

“While we know there are precedents for this practice, for us at Common Cause it’s always concerning when private donations to public officials are not fully disclosed,” Foster said.

Political candidates, for example, are already required to disclose the names of campaign donors to state campaign finance officials, as well as to inaugural committees. But even those rules have limits: Inaugural committees — groups used to raise money for inaugural celebrations, like the one Healey created to raise $3 million for her January party at the TD Garden — are not required to disclose how they’re spending the money, nor are legal defense funds overseen by state campaign regulators.


Matt Stout can be reached at Follow him @mattpstout.