While Governor Charlie Baker has demanded transparency of others, he and his political crew continue to keep secret much of the operations of his inaugural committee — which continued to take in thousands of dollars months after the bills were paid.
In late March the committee had a surplus and was handing out checks to charities while still hauling in special interest donations.
In mid-April, the committee accepted a $10,000 check from the huge retail giant Walmart. On June 1, it accepted another $10,000 from Danvers-based Abiomed, the heavily-regulated developer of the world’s smallest heart pump. Walmart spent $85,000 lobbying Beacon Hill last year; Abiomed, $136,000.
Justifying their refusal to open the committee’s books, Baker aides insist they and the governor are abiding by state law which requires only reporting the donors and the amounts they gave. It does not require a public accounting of how the money is spent.
The Baker aides did offer a broad outline: $1.8 million of the more than $2.4 million raised went to 20 or more inaugural events. Another $400,000 went for overhead, such as staff and fund-raising expenses.
Baker’s deputy chief of staff, Jim Conroy, also supplied a list of charities that received grants from the committee — but would not give the amounts or the dates they were given. And he repeated the administration’s refusal to detail who was paid salaries and consulting fees.
Asked for more details, he said: “The Baker-Polito inaugural committee followed state ethics regulations by disclosing all required information, went beyond those requirements by voluntarily imposing low-dollar limits on lobbyists, and the administration is pleased that a modest surplus could be used to support a number of local charities.”
The charities are: ADA Anniversary Celebration; Auburn Youth and Family Services Franciscan Hospital for Children; Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association; National Medal of Honor Convention; Soldier On; Stop3.org, Inc.; The BASE; Thomas M. Menino Fund @ The Boston Foundation; Worcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff Assoc.; Year Up; and Youth Link.
Baker, who threw the most expensive inaugural in state history, has frequently posed as an advocate for public access to records of public agencies — and even private groups such as the Olympic organizers’ nonprofit Boston 2024 when the group refused initially to release the consulting fees it was paying his predecessor, Deval Patrick.
Frank Phillips can be reached at email@example.com.