Tisei hits Moulton on outside donations

Seth Moulton, the former Marine who upset US Representative John F. Tierney in the Democratic primary last month, raised most of his preprimary campaign contributions out of state, fueling criticism from his Republican rival that his focus is far beyond the Sixth Congressional District he aims to represent.

Moulton, who is currently on his second two-day campaign swing through New York City in two weeks, raised 60 percent of his campaign contributions outside Massachusetts, according to a new analysis of preprimary data by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Comparatively, Republican Richard Tisei raised just 24 percent outside the state, the center’s most recent analysis shows.


Tisei’s campaign seized on the disparity to paint Moulton as a johnny-come-lately with less local support than Tisei, a Wakefield native and business owner who represented his hometown in the Legislature for 26 years.

“Seth doesn’t have the same ties to this district the way Richard has,” said Tisei spokesman Charlie Szold. This week, he said, the Moulton campaign canceled a debate Wednesday on WGBH to hold a fund-raiser instead. A spokesman confirmed that Moulton has an afternoon fund-raiser in the district that day with Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Szold suggested Moulton is relying on his friends on Wall Street, noting that Moulton worked for Goldman Sachs in New York in 2011. That is partially correct. Moulton worked there as an intern while he was studying at Harvard Business School, a campaign spokesman confirmed.

Campaign finance data show that even before the primary, Moulton had raised about $250,000 from Wall Street, nearly $25,000 from London, and nearly $47,000 from Los Angeles.

The data tracked federal campaign contributions of more than $200 from individuals, as reported to the Federal Election Commission by Aug. 20, before the Sept. 9 primary election, the most recent data available.


Tisei raised $1.35 million by Aug. 20, but his campaign would not divulge more recent estimates, which are not yet posted online. Moulton had raised $1.6 million by Aug. 20, and his campaign revealed he has raised an estimated $530,000 since then, boosting his total fund-raising to date to $2.175 million.

A Moulton spokesman, Scott Ferson, was untroubled by the disparity between the campaigns’ geographical sources of income, saying that, during the primary, it was often hard to persuade loyal Democrats to publicly back Moulton’s challenge of a Democratic incumbent. Still, Ferson noted, Moulton has received plenty of donations from both inside and outside the district.

“He has a very, very broad network, a broad background of experience that has taken him different places,” he said.

An alumnus of Phillips Academy, Harvard College, and a dual degree program at Harvard Business School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Moulton has been able to leverage his contacts into lucrative contributions for his campaign.

His unexpected primary win changed the calculus of the general election race, in which Tisei was expected to make a compelling case for change. Now, with the 18-year incumbent already ousted, Moulton has seized the role of change agent and tried to cast the Republican as a creature of the Beacon Hill establishment.

Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at stephanie.ebbert@