The Jacobs family, which lists among its many properties around the world the TD Garden and the Bruins, is not generally considered part of the heavy political donor class here in Massachusetts, even though its businesses frequently depend on decisions made at City Hall and the State House.
But apparently Mayor Marty Walsh has charmed the Buffalo-based family.
Jeremy Jacobs and his three sons — who own and operate Delaware North, a huge conglomerate that owns the hockey team and the Garden — just gave, along with their spouses, $13,000 in donations to Walsh’s political committee. The money, collected at a fundraiser for the mayor at the Garden, was deposited in Walsh’s account on earlier this week.
That amount is about equal to what the Jacobs family has donated to all Massachusetts political figures over the past 15 years, campaign finance records show. The current mayor seems to have impressed the Jacobs family in a way the Tom Menino never did. They never gave a dime to Menino in his last decade in office, although the Garden always faces transportation, parking, and development issues that need approval from City Hall. The company paid $214,750 last year to three high-priced, well-connected State House lobbyists.
One hint as to why Walsh, a lifelong Bruins fan who once had season tickets, found his way into the Jacob’s good graces: Last September the city gave a subsidiary of Delaware North a three-year contract to develop seasonal events on City Hall Plaza, a hugely under-used public place since its creation nearly 50 years ago. Its first event was Boston Winter, which won rave reviews.
But Walsh scoffs at that notion. He says he has had a long working relationship with the Jacobs family, including with the Bruins’ charity foundation that has donated money for homeless programs and the Boston public schools.
“I’m honored that the Jacobs family is supporting me,’’ he said. “They’ve done incredible work in the city.”
Still, the Jacobs company is refreshingly frank about its owners’ reasons for donating to political figures like Walsh.
“Delaware North is active in the political process with both political parties based on having a variety of business interests involving various levels of government,’’ said company spokesman Glen White.