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New super PAC aims to promote independent candidates

Another day, another Massachusetts political action committee that can raise unlimited amounts of money — from people, labor unions, and corporations — and spend it to influence elections.

A local attorney has filed paperwork to organize a new super PAC focused on boosting independent candidates.

The group is aimed at promoting “the election of independent candidates to public offices in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts” and providing “the voters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with alternatives to the candidates running for election to public office as Democrats or Republicans,” according to the Tuesday filing with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.


The filing lists Paul W. Johnson, an attorney who gives an office address in Boston and a residential address in Swampscott, as the chairman and treasurer of the new super PAC, Independent Candidates Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee.

Johnson did not immediately return telephone messages or an email Wednesday morning.

On his website, he says he served as chief legal counsel to the governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1996-1999. Republican governors William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci were in office during that time period.

Johnson also says he provides advice with respect to the organization of super PACs.

The filing does not specifically say whether the new super PAC plans to focus on the November gubernatorial race. Nor does it offer more information about who might be behind the group.

There are currently three independent candidates running for governor: Evan Falchuk, a lawyer and former business executive; venture capital investor Jeffrey S. McCormick; and evangelical Christian pastor Scott Lively.

A slew of super PACs — technically independent expenditure political action committees — supporting different candidates have proliferated in the race to succeed Governor Deval Patrick. They are expected to spend millions of dollars in hopes of influencing the outcome of the election.


Independent expenditures, by definition, must be done without consultation or cooperation with a candidate or his or her campaign.

Some good government groups are critical of the often shadowy nature of super PACs, which have become omnipresent in the political landscape since since the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which allows unlimited spending on elections by corporations and labor unions as a matter of free speech.

Under current state regulations, super PACs must report how they have spent the money within seven business days of making expenditures. Yet they only need to report a list of contributors three times: eight days before the primary election, eight days before the general election, and in a year-end report.

The Legislature is considering a bill to increase disclosure requirements for the groups.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.