Boston 2024 is on track to spend more than $1.5 million this year on marketing and communications, employing some of the biggest names around from Micho Spring to Doug Rubin.
No Boston Olympics has its own high-priced PR consultant: Ray Howell. There's just one big difference: He's working for free.
Howell, the former press secretary for Governor Bill Weld, approached the grassroots, anti-Olympics group in late March. Howell liked their message – a smart, data-driven argument against Boston hosting the 2024 Summer Games.
"When I met the leaders of this group, I found them to be very refreshing," said Howell, who started his own shop, Howell Communications, two decades ago. "They are doing this for all the right reasons."
No Boston Olympics formed 18 months ago and is run by three 30-something leaders: Chris Dempsey, a former consultant at Bain & Co. and assistant state secretary of transportation; Kelley Gossett, a former nonprofit director at One Family and Horizons for Homeless Children; and Liam Kerr, the Massachusetts director for Democrats for Education Reform.
Dempsey and Gossett both quit their day jobs earlier this year to fight Boston's bid, and like Howell are working for free. While Boston 2024 has a paid staff and raised about $2.8 million in the first quarter alone, No Boston Olympics has been operating on a shoestring budget of less than $7,500 since its inception.
Howell likes underdogs. He was one of Weld's earliest gubernatorial supporters, back when he was a long shot even within his own Republican party.
"Whatever you think about the Olympics, whichever side you are on, you should be rooting for this group," said Howell. "They are keeping Boston 2024 honest."