Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

August 16, 2014

2013 Cambridge City Council Campaign Finance Receipts (Jan 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014)

2013 Cambridge City Council Campaign Finance Receipts (Jan 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014)

CandidatesCambridgeTotalCambridge %union/PAC %Real Estate %Notes
Benzan, Dennis$25,891.00$55,161.0046.9%3.3%0.5%$2,000 overpayment subtracted
Carlone, Dennis$34,796.00$41,650.0083.5%0.6%0.5%$16,000 from candidate
Cheung, Leland$21,366.00$51,385.3741.6%6.4%20.2%$2 from candidate
House, Janneke$12,177.24$14,811.7382.2%0.2%5.1%$6867.24 from candidate; $1132.76 reimbursed
Kelley, Craig$10,591.00$11,441.0092.6%0%3.5%$25 from candidate
Lee, James$1,800.00$1,975.0091.1%0%0%$1,800 from candidate
Leslie, Logan$20,520.00$24,007.5385.5%4.2%0%$13,100 from candidate
Maher, David$28,260.00$50,653.6855.8%6.6%22.4%-
Mazen, Nadeem$10,706.96$41,058.4326.1%2.7%0%includes $1750 in-kind, $3000 loan from candidate
McGovern, Marc$28764.80$58,228.1349.4%9.3%29.5%$1903.58 from previous campaign
Mello, Gary$500.00$500.00100.0%0%0%$500 from candidate
Mirza, Mushtaque$17,786.00$19,983.0089.0%0%0%$17,000 loan; $16793.84 apparently forgiven
Moree, Gregg J. $2,400.00$2,400.00100.0%0%0%$2,400 from candidate not itemized
Peden, Ron$500.00$500.00100.0%0%0%$500 from candidate not itemized
Phillips, Lesley$500.00$500.00100.0%0%0%-
Reeves, Ken$14,343.88$67,362.9321.3%9.3%25.0%Campaign headquarters greatly underreported; accounting unclear
Seidel, Sam$15,362.00$22,245.8269.1%1.1%0.9%$4,001 from candidate
Simmons, Denise$16,125.00$35,222.0245.8%14.1%20.3%-
Smith, Jefferson$20,040.00$39,440.0050.8%6.0%0%$17,220 from candidate; confused accounting
Toomey, Tim$15,969.43$41,083.7738.9%13.6%22.1%-
vanBeuzekom, Minka $22,512.00$31,757.7070.9%1.3%3.0%$7,500 from candidate
Vasquez, Luis$1,375.00$2,410.9657.0%0%0%-
von Hoffmann, Kristen$6,351.33$17,166.4537.0%0%1.7%$1,750 loan; $1640.33 in-kind forgiven
Williamson, James-----no reported receipts
Yarden, Elie-----no reported receipts

Note: Receipts include candidate loans which can greatly increase the percentage from Cambridge. Fees are included and reduce total receipts. Percentages for unions/PACS and identifiable real estate interests (RE) are shown. The total receipts in the first graph below includes all receipts reported by the bank. Bank receipts in some cases do not match the reported itemized receipts. All figures taken from Mass. Office of Campaign & Political Finance (OCPF) reports.

Two candidates in particular, Nadeem Mazen and Jefferson Smith, have financial reports that are especially difficult to decipher due to their liberal use of credit cards which resulted in some expenses being counted twice. I corrected the data as much as I could, but both campaigns could have used a competent treasurer.

Additional information, including expenditures, may be found at

These figures will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Total Itemized Receipts – 2013 (through Dec 14)

Cambridge Percentage
Percentage of Itemized Receipts from Cambridge – 2013 (through Dec 14, minimum $2000)

Cambridge Receipts from Others
Percentage of Itemized Receipts from Cambridge w/o Candidate Loans

Percent Real Estage
Percentage of Itemized Receipts from Real Estate/Developers – 2013 (through Dec 14, minimum $5000)


  1. Got any stats showing any correlation to money spent to getting elected? If so how do you account for Kelly? Or do you have to factor in a “no” constant?

    Comment by patrick barrett — October 8, 2013 @ 11:48 am

  2. Yes, I have lots of information on the relationship between money spent and chances of election. For example:

    Craig Kelley deserves a lot of credit for running a successful campaign on a shoestring. The other candidates could learn a thing or two from him.

    Comment by Robert Winters — October 8, 2013 @ 11:58 am

  3. Kelley definitely found his niche, though I feel he’d be clobbered with a stronger field. Though he does get kudos for the economics

    Comment by patrick barrett — October 8, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

  4. I think a lot of people don’t understand why Kelley is successful. My sense is that it has a lot to do with his frequent email messages to constituents – and I don’t mean the usual blasts filled with images and superficial statements about “what I’ve been doing as your councillor”. Kelley’s messages are well-targeted and come across more like a request to get involved. There’s an old adage in politics (from Benjamin Franklin of all people) that is tried and true: “If you want to make a friend, let someone do you a favor.”

    Kelley’s messages at least seem as though he respects his recipients enough to provide details asking them to understand. I don’t know that I ever recall him sending out a message saying what a wonderful guy he is with a list of things he is supposedly responsible for. His messages cost him nothing, but they buy a lot of support.

    Comment by Robert Winters — October 8, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

  5. He is one of the few councilors that actually responds to my emails. I’ve “met” Denise Simmons so many times now that each new time she forget who I am I just tell her my name is Gus. Kelley’s performance during the 300 Mass. Ave. block debacle frustrated the hell out of me, however the whole team was the sports equivalent of the Washington Generals during that one, with Maher/Decker the only ones conscious on the floor.

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — October 14, 2013 @ 9:44 am

  6. It’s interesting — and instructive — to see who get more than 50% of their money from outside of Cambridge, and who don’t.
    It’s even more useful to examine who the people are who are contributing, to whom, and why: e.g., Jim Rafferty? John DiGiovanni (& family members)? The much extended Ratner family of Cleveland and Forest City? (You might also guess someone like Pebble Gifford, but you’d be wrong…)
    Does anyone seriously believe that those who contribute at these levels don’t expect something in return, both before — and after — they decide to give as much as $500, the legal maximum, to a candidate? (And possibly more, with family “bundling,” etc…)

    For an interesting look at this topic I suggest the following book by a professor at U Mass, Boston:

    “Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems,”
    Thomas Ferguson (1995).

    Here’s a useful quote from an online review:(ref.
    “Voters might want (if anyone asked) more government support for unions, less price regulation that ensures profits for railroads, or a national health-care plan. But no one asks: voters never get a chance to choose policy directly because all they do is select representatives. And representatives need money to have any chance of winning an election. Thomas Ferguson calls this the “campaign cost condition,” and places it at the center of his theory of the dynamics of American politics.

    There are two additional aspects of Ferguson’s theory worth pointing out. The first is the claim that competition among moneyed interests is unlikely to solve the problem of access to the agenda. Ferguson calls this the “principle of noncompetition across investor blocs,” noting that “on all issues affecting the vital interests that major investors have in common, no party competition will take place” (p. 28; emphasis added).

    Second, Ferguson argues that although elections do not simply go to the highest bidder, only access to money from investors makes a real campaign possible. Since representatives need money to get elected, they can’t take positions unpopular with moneyed interests, though those positions would win in the “perfectly informed voters” world of the median-voter theorem. Voters cannot overcome the transaction costs of pooling their resources, so they must accept the choices offered.”
    (Read it and weep.) Sincerely, James M. Williamson

    Comment by James M. Williamson — October 14, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

  7. Jimmy it must be lonely on holy mountain. I also do not think blindly accusing your competition is very endearing though I imagine its the kind of jazz your electorate gets down to. I’ve donated to nearly every candidate running with some obvious exceptions 😉 Some are against what I want, some are clueless, some agree with about half of what I say… I can’t say I expect to get much for my money when I’m looking at a bunch of Democrats who for the most part don’t know their asses from their elbows. But you know what? They’re all good people, and I like a good race. No one among them is selling this city out for a steak dinner, and to suggest otherwise is just asinine. There may be something to Mr. Ferguson’s work on the national stage but it doesn’t fit as neatly in the realm of local city politics, and regurgitating it here like you just discovered cold fusion isn’t really on the level. Good luck in the November showdown.

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — October 15, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

  8. Well, gee, thanks for the kind and generous words! (I love you, too. [:-)]) If you care to know what I really think about the money game, have a look at my “candidate video” at CCTV (and all the others, I might add…): Yes, it’s even more pronounced at the state and federal level, I suppose, but are you really comparing yourself to Bruce Ratner??

    Comment by James M. Williamson — October 15, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

  9. Right back at ya fella, and I mean that. Im not comparing myself to anyone, I just don’t think blindly accusing your colleagues of selling their souls for a Morton’s steak dinner is appropriate. I don’t have a lot of time to hand out fliers, picket, or answer calls … so the only way I can contribute to the process is by way of money to the candidates I feel will be the best for Cambridge. I don’t expect anything in return, most people don’t, and believe me when I say most of them wouldn’t shake my hand in public. Its a proxy to allow people like me who have two jobs, go to school, and have children to offer some slight assistance to my neighbors who feel compelled to act on their civic instincts. If we were talking national politics and I owned oil fields in Bakersfield and needed a pipeline to Quincy… and donated infinity million dollars by way of superpac to a rep who, against all notions of rational thought, felt compelled to approve said pipeline, then…yes…I can see what you’re talking about. However there is nothing on the agenda in Cambridge that presents such a clear obstruction or would compel my brothers and sisters incumbent or potential to forsake reason in favor of one night at the Mandarin Hotel.

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — October 16, 2013 @ 10:17 am

  10. Blew the ‘url’ for the candidate videos at CCTV, they’re here:
    Compare and contrast! cheers 🙂

    Comment by James M. Williamson — October 16, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

  11. I’m just floored that you need nearly 30-50k to be competitive. I would agree with Robert’s assessments of Kelley. Benzan and Carlone are interesting, never heard of either of them and that’s a HUGE amount of money for non incumbents to raise. It will be an interesting race and I look forward to (and greatly appreciate!) the dollar per vote calculation. But we have two seats up for grabs and some weak incumbents so it will be very interesting indeed.

    Comment by James Conway — October 18, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

  12. Very late itemization of receipts by several candidates (perhaps intentionally) is the reason why there may appear to be discrepancies between the reported totals and the amounts in the itemized reports.

    Comment by Robert Winters — October 27, 2013 @ 12:33 am

  13. I also admired Kelley and the way he campaigns, especially by email. He gets good results. As to Benzan and Carlone, they are new to the council race but not Cambridge. Both have been around Cambridge for quite a while. The interesting part though is to see the 0 % in the columns for PAC and RE columns. No PAC or Real Estate contributions reported. This is quite a contrast to many others running for council including incumbents and non incumbents. I would also take a hard look at who, those in restaurant industry, donate to. Good luck to all in who you vote for and in what order. I om my way to Kentucky to visit my grandson

    Comment by Bob Richards — October 27, 2013 @ 7:24 am

  14. I would urge caution in drawing the wrong conclusions about who does and does not get contributions from major real estate interests. For example, I wouldn’t conclude that a challenger is immune from influence just because he has received no such contributions. Incumbents tend to be rewarded after the fact in recognition of their having behaved reasonably. A challenger generally has no such record to warrant that kind of reward.

    I think it’s also worth noting that there’s a belief among major property owners that elected officials in Cambridge have the potential to be very unreasonable, perhaps even irrational, when it comes anything with political implications. This includes almost anything relating to zoning. In this kind of environment, it’s not hard to see why a property owner or developer might want to write a few checks under the hope that they’ll get treated fairly in a political environment. Generally speaking, I haven’t seen much evidence of any “quid pro quo”. Campaign contributions are more like buying insurance than purchasing influence.

    Comment by Robert Winters — October 27, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  15. I’m a little confused by your numbers and charts. The first chart seems to show the numbers from which are listed as Oct 15 receipts. The Oct 15 numbers are higher than the Oct 26 numbers on this page, why is that?

    Comment by Kent Johnson — October 27, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

  16. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, “Very late itemization of receipts by several candidates (perhaps intentionally) is the reason why there may appear to be discrepancies between the reported totals and the amounts in the itemized reports.”

    Basically, the bank issues a report twice per month but the candidates still have to supply additional information before it shows up in the itemized reports. Some candidates, most notably Ken Reeves, take a very long time to submit itemized reports.

    Comment by Robert Winters — October 27, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

  17. It would be interesting to see the “Cambridge percentage” with candidates donations to themselves removed (if they’re not already).

    Thanks for doing such a comprehensive job. I was going to do my own analysis, but I’m not sure what I could usefully add to this.

    Comment by Saul Tannenbaum — November 2, 2013 @ 9:47 am

  18. Saul – I’ll make a new graph with the candidate loans removed and add it to the others. This, of course, will skew the results significantly in the case of candidates who have chosen to fund their own campaigns. Their money is, after all, also local money. The really interesting campaign finance figures and graphs will only come after the election has passed when excess candidate loans have been repaid to the candidates. That will also be the time to show the expenditures – much of which is spent in the closing days of the campaign on major mailings and robocalls.

    Comment by Robert Winters — November 2, 2013 @ 10:07 am

  19. Regarding City Councilors accepting money from developers and their lobbyists, here’s what the State’s contribution tracking website shows for local lawyer Jim Rafferty and his wife: in total, he’s donated over $30,000 to candidates over the past 10 years. In particular, current City Council members have received the following amounts:

    Councilor Name AmountYear of First Support
    Tim Toomey $4225 2002
    David Maher $3050 2005
    Ken Reeves $2750 2005
    Marjorie Decker $2250 2002
    Leland Cheung $1650 2010
    Denise Simmons $1650 2008
    Henrietta Davis $225 2009
    Craig Kelley $0 n/a
    Minka VanBeuzakom $0 n/a

    Candidate Name Amount Year of First Support
    Marc McGovern $200 2013

    In summary, he has been making repeated donations to as many as 7 of the current members (with City and State double dipper Tim Toomey leading the way), plus making a new bet on Marc McGovern for this year.

    Comment by Doug — November 4, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

  20. It’s all public information and anyone who contributes money to candidates has to know that. I would, however, not jump to conclusions too quickly regarding motive. Mr. Rafferty is himself a former elected School Committee member as well as a true-blue “townie” and it’s not at all surprising that he would make contributions to candidates. I imagine he makes a good income as well, so I would hope that his contributions would be in keeping with what he can afford to give.

    Comment by Robert Winters — November 4, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

  21. Naturally, it does not surprise me that Councilor Toomey leads amongst Union/PAC money. It’s all a matter of “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”

    Comment by Philip Michael Mitza — August 21, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

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