Democratic candidate for governor Juliette Kayyem today knocked rival Martha Coakley for condemning a super PAC-funded TV advertisement when she accepted money from an organization affiliated with the same super PAC just days before.
In a contribution dated Thursday, The National Association of Government Employees — a union often referred to by its acronym, NAGE — gave $5,000 to Coakley, according to state campaign finance filings.
On Saturday, the National Association of Government Employees’ Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee, a super PAC which NAGE funds, began airing an ad attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker.
On Monday, Coakley released a statement disapproving of super PACs that said “I disavow these ads running against Charlie Baker.”
Kayyem slammed Coakley’s comment.
“To have the whole NAGE thing happen this weekend just reeked of hypocrisy,” Kayyem said in a telephone interview, referring to Coakley.
“There was a super PAC [ad] run on Saturday, the first ad, and it became clear to us that as the attorney general is condemning this organization and outside spending — it’s the same group, same address, same person that gave her money just two days before,” Kayyem said.
NAGE and the NAGE super PAC are actually separate organizations. But super PAC co-chairwoman and spokeswoman Stephanie Zaiser — who is also the union’s communications director — said that NAGE funds the NAGE super PAC.
However Zaiser underlined the distinction between the two.
“They are two separate things,” she said. The “PAC and the money that NAGE gave to the Attorney General are completely different.”
Zaiser added that the PAC, like all super PACs, is prohibited from coordinating with campaigns and has not and will not coordinate with Coakley or any other candidates.
Super PACs are organizations that can raise unlimited amounts of money from people, labor unions, and corporations and can spend as much as they want.
The attack marks a ratcheting up of rhetoric from Kayyem, a former state and federal homeland security official and one-time Boston Globe editorial page columnist. It comes just over six weeks before the state Democratic Party convention, when delegates will vote for gubernatorial hopefuls. Only those candidates receiving at least fifteen percent of that vote will qualify for the Sept. 9 primary ballot.
Coakley and Treasurer Steven Grossman are widely expected to meet the threshold. The campaigns of the three other candidates — Kayyem; former Medicaid chief Donald M. Berwick; and biopharmaceutical executive Joe Avellone — have expressed confidence their candidates will make the ballot as well.
Coakley spokeswoman Bonnie McGilpin responded to Kayyem’s attack in a statement.
“It is unfortunate that after months of silence on this issue the Kayyem campaign is resorting to misleading attacks,” McGilpin said. “Her campaign clearly knows the difference between accepting campaign donations, which all candidates do, and embracing the involvement of a SuperPAC in this election...”
Besides the five Democratic hopefuls, there are two Republicans, a Libertarian and three independent candidates running to succeed Governor Deval Patrick.