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Education nonprofit to spend on behalf of John Connolly

Mayoral candidate John Connolly.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff/file

A national education group announced Friday that it will spend money in support of John R. Connolly’s, despite his declaration that he does not want independent expenditures on his behalf by outside advocacy groups during the remainder of the mayoral race.

In a statement posted to its website, Democrats for Education Reform, a national education reform nonprofit that supports charter schools, said that it was going to ignore Connolly’s request that outside groups not spend money during the mayoral general election.

“Despite Connolly’s continued efforts to limit outside spending, there is clearly no agreement between the candidates in the general election,” said Matt Garcia, the group’s field director, in the statement, first reported by the Dorchester Reporter. “With just 25 days until the election and over one million dollars already spent by other groups, we feel compelled to directly tell voters the value of John Connolly’s experience as chair of the City Council’s education committee, as a middle school teacher, and as the father of a student in a turnaround school.”

Labor unions, special interest groups, and political action committees often dedicate money to the political candidates they support through independent expenditures, spending money directly on behalf of the candidate rather than donating it to his or her campaign. By spending the money themselves, the groups are able to dodge state and federal campaign donation limits and can pour millions in advertisements, mailers, and canvassing into a political race.


Infusion of money from outside groups has been a central issue since the early days of the campaign, with some candidates in the preliminary election calling on the field to agree to a so-called People’s Pledge -- in which the candidates would call on outside groups not to spend money and agree to give a matching donation to charity whenever an outside group spent money.


Connolly initially refused to commit to the pledge -- receiving more than $63,000 in support from outside groups in the race’s early months -- but he changed his stance after Stand For Children, a national education nonprofit, committed to spending $500,000 on his behalf.

Standing in front of City Hall in late August, Connolly asked Stand For Children not to spend the money and agreed to take a People’s Pledge. No outside group has spent a dollar on his behalf since.

Walsh has long resisted calls for a pledge, benefiting from more than $1 million in outside spending since the beginning of the race, primarily from labor-affiliated groups.

Calling the pledge a “gimmick,” Walsh rejected Connolly’s call last month for the two finalists to sign a pledge.

The news that Democrats for Education Reform will spend money on Connolly’s behalf broke just hours after WBUR reported that Stand For Children’s top official had said the group will not spend money on Connolly’s behalf in the general election.

Officials with Stand For Children could not be immediately reached by the Globe to confirm that the group will not spend money for Connolly during the general election.

The Connolly campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment about either group’s decision regarding independent expenditures in the general election.

Wesley Lowery can be reached at Wesley.Lowery@globe.com