Mayoral candidate John Connolly on Wednesday swore off independent expenditures from outside special interest groups, publicly declaring that he does not want $500,000 pledged to him earlier this week by Stand For Children, an Oregon-based education nonprofit.
Connolly, an at-large city councilor and one of a dozen mayoral hopefuls, had come under fire from other candidates after the group’s endorsement and pledge of financial support was reported by the Globe on Tuesday.
“The first I learned about the $500,000 independent expenditure is when I read about it in the newspaper,” Connolly said during a Wednesday morning press conference at City Hall. “I did not request any contribution and I do not want any contribution.”
Connolly said he will write a letter later today to Stand For Children asking them not to spend any money on his behalf. He added that he would also ask Democrats for Education Reform, which has been canvassing on his behalf, to stop spending money for his campaign.
The candidate’s public rejection of the Stand For Children money came one day after other Boston mayoral candidates slammed him for the gift, decrying the infusion of special interest money into the race.
Special interest advocacy groups, political action committees, and labor unions often spend money on behalf of candidates they have endorsed. By spending the money directly rather than donating it to the candidates’ campaign accounts, the groups dodge campaign contribution limits dictated by election laws.
City Councilor Rob Consalvo had used the pledge by Stand For Children to renew calls for a “Boston Pledge,” in which candidates would match any money spent by an outside group on behalf of a candidate with an equal contribution to the One Fund, which was set up to benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Connolly’s decision to turn down the Stand For Children money earned him praise from Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, who on Tuesday had issued a strongly worded statement condemning the pledge of outside money.
“John did the right thing today,” Conley said. “He knew this was wrong and he did the right thing today. So I applaud him for that.”
Conley announced Tuesday that he would join Consalvo in signing the pledge and asked the other candidates to do the same, however Connolly said he would not, calling it a “political gimmick.”
Connolly stressed that, due to election rules barring collaboration between candidates and outside groups, he can not physically stop Stand For Children from spending money on his behalf.
“But I have to believe that if they truly support by candidacy they’re going to accept my wishes,” Connolly added.
In a statement to the Globe issued Wednesday afternoon, Stand for Children said it would respect Connolly’s request to not devote advertising money to his campaign.
“We respect John Connolly’s request that we not advertise on his behalf.” said Jason Williams, executive director of Stand for Children Massachusetts, in a statement to the Globe. “We remain excited about his candidacy and his enthusiastic support for better schools in Boston. We will focus all of our energy during this preliminary campaign on the issues that are central to our mission.”Wesley Lowery can be reached at Wesley.Lowery@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.