Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

February 20, 2016

Campaign Finance – 2015 Cambridge City Council Candidates

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge,campaign finance,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 9:08 pm

Vote!This year (2015) is a municipal election year and the roster of candidates is now final. Here is where the campaign accounts stand for incumbents and challengers for Cambridge City Council. This information will be updated as the year progresses.

It will be interesting to see how the new individual contribution limit of $1000/year (up from $500/year) affects campaign receipts and expenditures.

City Council Campaign Finance - 2015 (based on bank reports, updated Feb 20, 2016)

CandidatesStartEndOpenReceiptsExpendBalance#1 Votes$ per #1 Vote
Benzan, Dennis1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$8207.45$70200.89$78273.51$134.84
Carlone, Dennis1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$4272.67$33079.30$37256.45$95.521002$37.18
Cheung, Leland1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$6002.06$95266.51$39430.61$61837.961189$33.16
Connolly, Mike16-Jul-1515-Feb-16$0.00$50381.44$39581.86$10799.58841$47.07
Courtney, Kim1-Jan-1515-Dec-15$0.00$1869.94$1869.94$0.0072$25.97
Davidson, Mariko25-Jun-1515-Feb-16$0.00$15232.25$15232.25$0.00853$17.86
DeGoes, Plineo16-Jun-1515-Dec-15$0.00$4550.00$4550.00$0.0051$89.22
Devereux, Jan1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$0.00$55720.44$53162.94$2557.501307$40.68
Dietrich, Xavier13-Jul-1515-Dec-15$0.00$2360.00$2360.00$0.0027$78.90
Kelley, Craig1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$2601.58$39626.05$37858.49$4369.141434$26.40
Levy, Ilan13-Jul-1531-Dec-15$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00153$0.00
Maher, David1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$28741.21$55839.21$83063.27$1517.151637$50.74
Mahoney, Paul F.2-Jul-1515-Feb-16$0.00$5075.00$2376.64$2698.36251$9.47
Mazen, Nadeem1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$12273.54$69320.74$81508.96$85.321929$42.25
McGovern, Marc1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$6098.45$67556.62$72900.57$754.501202$60.65
Mello, Gary1-Jul-1531-Dec-15$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00119$0.00
Moree, Gregg1-Jul-1515-Feb-16$0.00$13320.00$13316.42$3.5878$170.72
Sanzone, John1-May-1515-Feb-16$0.00$3085.28$2280.50$804.7832$71.27
Simmons, Denise1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$7447.29$59939.41$61288.24$6098.461715$35.74
Toomey, Tim1-Jan-1531-Dec-15$18782.29$48207.68$60573.92$6416.051416$42.78
vanBeuzekom, Minka 1-Jan-1515-Feb-16$7380.40$46013.45$52113.55$1280.301014$51.39
Waite, Romaine2-Jul-1515-Feb-16$0.00$3687.95$3687.95$0.00
Williamson, James1-Jul-1531-Dec-15$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.0072$0.00

The table can be sorted by category in ascending or descending order by clicking on the category name in the top row.

The $ per #1 Vote figures will continue to rise as expenditure reports continue to be filed.

All 2015 Campaign Finance Report Summaries (PDF) – last updated Feb 20, 2016

You can also look up these periodic reports (and more) yourself at the OCPF website.

The information in the tables below was compiled in early December 2015. Some additional receipts, expenditures, returned donations, etc. have occurred since then. The tables may be updated at some point in the future to reflect these changes.

Dollars Spent per #1 Vote


Percentage of Campaign Receipts from Cambridge


Additional Campaign Finance Details



  1. Among the many curious facts in Councillor Mazen’s expenditure reports is the presence of $12,106 in non-itemized credit card payments. Perhaps the information about where that sizable amount of money was spent exists somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. That’s more than double what Councillor Kelley spent on his entire campaign!

    Councillor Mazen’s expenditures also show $2,404.79 in Account Analysis fees. That’s what you pay when your account is overdrawn. Good thing he’s not chairing the City Council’s Finance Committee.

    The Mazen expenditures also show a $1,593.93 unexplained cash withdrawal – not exactly a high point in transparency.

    From the rent-a-campaign department it’s worth noting that Mazen paid $19,900 to cover the salaries of two campaign managers (one of whom later became his City Council personal aide) plus an additional $5,870 for paid canvassers for his 2013 campaign. This was the antithesis of a “grass roots” campaign.

    Mazen has stated that he paid to park his controversial campaign bus for a year and a half in the illegal parking lot at Vail Court (that was the subject of multiple City Council orders that included the threat of eminent domain taking). He has stated that this is his personal vehicle. Exactly what was the parking rate for this extended parking for his personal vehicle? Was it at the same rate that others paid to park on this property? (One would think that for a double-size vehicle it should actually be more.) This is an important question because anything less than the rate paid by others would have to be viewed as an in-kind gift to an elected official and there are legal limits on such gifts without becoming an ethics violation.

    The conversation about money and politics starts with disclosure.

    Comment by Robert Winters — April 2, 2015 @ 11:33 am

  2. Where is this information available for Boston City Council Candidates?…

    Comment by theszak — May 1, 2015 @ 8:28 am

  3. You can get the month-by-month information for Boston candidates at the OCPF site, but you have to know the names of the candidates in order to do that. I don’t know of a place where all the Boston information is compiled for all their municipal candidates in a summary form. Maybe someone should start the Boston Civic Journal.

    Comment by Robert Winters — May 1, 2015 @ 9:07 am

  4. Templates for a Civic Journal would be good. A favorite, of course, Cambridge Civic Journal spun off as a fill in the blanks template.

    Potential Candidates and Incumbent Candidates for Boston City Council are mentioned at

    At-Large Councilor South Boston’s Michael F. Flaherty Jr
    At-Large Councilor Stephen J. Murphy
    At-Large Councilor Ayanna Pressley
    At-Large Councilor Michelle Wu
    Dorchester’s Annissa Essaibi George
    South Boston’s Bryan Fuller
    South Boston’s Chrissanta Rudder
    South End’s Bentzion Chudnovskiy

    District 1 East Boston, Charlestown, North End/Waterfront, Harbor Islands are a part of District 3, except Deer Island, which is part of District 1.
    Council President South Boston’s Bill Linehan

    District 2 City Hall/Beacon Hill/Islands , Chinatown, South Boston, South End, Harbor Islands are a part of District 3, except Deer Island, which is part of District 1.
    Councilor East Boston’s Salvatore LaMattina

    District 3 Dorchester, Harbor Islands, Roxbury/South Bay , Dorchester/New Market , South Boston , Mattapan, South End, Harbor Islands are a part of District 3, except Deer Island, which is part of District 1.
    Councilor Dorchester’s Frank Baker
    Dorchester’s Donnie Palmer

    District 4 Dorchester, Roslindale, Dorchester/St. Mark’s , Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Hyde Park
    Councilor Charles C. Yancey
    Mattapan’s Andrea Campbell
    Jovan Lacet
    Terrance Williams

    District 5 Hyde Park, Readville, Roslindale, Mattapan
    Councilor Timothy McCarthy
    Mattapan’s Jean-Claude Sanon

    District 6 Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Roslindale, Roxbury, Back of the Hill
    Councilor Jamaica Plain’s Matt O’Malley

    District 7 Roxbury, South End, Fenway, Dorchester
    Councilor Grove Hall’s Tito Jackson
    Dorchester’s Althea Garrison
    Roxbury’s Charles Clemons

    District 8 Back Bay/Beacon Hill , Fenway/Kenmore , Mission Hill, West End, Allston
    Councilor Back Bay’s Josh Zakim
    Beacon Hill’s Thomas Joseph Dooley III

    District 9 Allston, Brighton
    Councilor Allston-Brighton’s Mark Ciommo

    Comment by theszak — May 2, 2015 @ 1:52 am

  5. June 4 – I’m getting really tired of trying to make sense of the Mazen campaign finance reports. They are filled with countless errors. Perhaps he should consider hiring an adult as a campaign treasurer.

    Comment by Robert Winters — June 4, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

  6. Finally the deck is getting filled up. I see two folks on the same Strawberry Hill St. and a bunch of folks I’ve never seen before…and of course James Williamson who is always good for a chuckle. I hope we hear some real bullshit in the upcoming. Courtney seems especially pissed off so I expect some real “good” stuff from her, though Minka already declared herself a shoo-in when Cheung thought he was going to be Lt. Gov. she also has a great knack for ramping up the nonsense. Too early for predictions but I am very please with the crazy to sane ratio that I am now seeing; and to think I was worried.

    Comment by patrick barrett — July 3, 2015 @ 1:12 pm

  7. Here’s a status update for this year as of Sept 18, 2015:
    David Maher now has the most money available: $41,211.03
    Marc McGovern has raised the most money so far: $47,138.30
    Jan Devereux has spent the most money so far: $38,870.36

    Comment by Robert Winters — September 18, 2015 @ 11:14 pm

  8. Here’s a status update for this year as of Oct 7, 2015:
    David Maher now has the most money available: $32097.59
    Marc McGovern has raised the most money so far: $50737.60
    Jan Devereux has spent the most money so far: $41402.74

    Comment by Robert Winters — October 7, 2015 @ 11:02 am

  9. Where’s the Devereux money come from? I haven’t heard from her before this year, who is her base and how flush are they?

    Also another Point of Information, didn’t we have matching funds at some time? Lenny Clarke did a bit where he mentions the city gave him matching funds for his ‘fuck the kennedys’ bumper stickers when he ran a joke campaign in the 70s for Cambridge City Council.

    We should do something locally, these races are getting ridiculously expensive. Lotta money to spend for a 60k a year position and a lot of favors to surely owe.

    Comment by James Conway — October 12, 2015 @ 5:46 pm

  10. James Conway asked where the Devereux money is coming from. As Jan’s campaign treasurer, I’ll tell you that the answer is pretty simple: from Cambridge. More specifically, from small donations in Cambridge. A detailed review of the 15,000+ donation records on file for current candidates at the Office of Campaign and Political Finance finds that 86.08% of Jan’s money came from Cambridge donors, a higher percentage than any other candidate in the race. The Cambridge numbers for the Unity Slate: just 43.47% of their career donations, half of Jan’s career total.

    In addition, her average donation amount was just $146; less than the individual averages for all 7 Unity Slate members (which collectively average $174 per donation). So much for the argument that all Jan’s supporters are rich. And Jan’s supporters have donated in larger numbers, too, by the way; 321 donations as of October 4th, more than twice the average number of donations for all Unity Slate members. In fact, that’s as many donations as the next two candidates (Simmons and McGovern) combined. Fortunately, when you run a grass roots campaign like Jan has, every new Cambridge donor, no matter how small their donation, represents yet another vote earned for your cause. ““I would rather take money from people who have lots of it than have to ask for some from my low-income neighbor,” said Councilor Cheung recently. We would politely beg to disagree.

    As for special interest money, we don’t take it. The same can’t be said for Unity Slate members, which have collectively received 45.51% of all their money this year from real estate developers, their attorneys, architects, employees, spouses, relatives, and lobbyists. Leading the pack: Marc McGovern with 63.26% developer money in 2015. As you would expect, very little of that money originates in Cambridge, with the Unity Slate collectively drawing just 47.72% of their contributions from within Cambridge this year. Even local-guy-made-good Dennis Benzan gets only 39.55% of his funding from our fair city. Sadly, the current election funding model continues to subject good people to particularly awkward and Faustian circumstances.

    Regarding the question of how much of our money we’ve spent so far, the simple answer is that we will need to spend all of it, because incumbents are naturally favored by the current system. Current councilors have paid aides and staff members to generate their various “It’s Happening Here!” email blasts. They have storage lockers full of old yard signs already printed and paid for. They have campaign websites already built, free union labor trucked in to hold campaign signs on election day, even the name recognition that comes from having your name on every piece of stationery printed by the City. Challengers have none of those advantages, at least not until Cambridge chooses to pursue publicly funded elections. So, yes, we will need to spend all of our remaining money, and spend it very wisely, to get our message out to voters.

    That’s in contrast to a Unity Slate of incumbents that are by Robert Winters’ own calculations currently sitting on more than $133,000 in free cash, half of it garnered from the deep-pocketed real estate special interests doing business before them every day. Time is running out Unity Slate members- better spend that dirty money quick! Regardless, I hope in the end they will at least throw us all a really big party if they win, because the City’s hangover from such an unfortunate result is likely to be both long and painful.

    Comment by Doug Brown — October 19, 2015 @ 10:24 pm

  11. I do not get how Mazen can summon nearly $40k from outside sources to fund a municipal election in Cambridge. That is just f’d up.

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — October 29, 2015 @ 1:57 pm

  12. It’s certainly legal to derive most or all of your campaign finances from far away – even if it might cause some voters to question who you really are representing. What’s interesting is the spectacular hypocrisy of a candidate questioning the ethics of other candidates based on where they are deriving their campaign funds when, in fact, that candidate is drawing as much or more from the deep pockets of people and organizations who clearly have no connection to the city in which the election is taking place.

    How would people in Cambridge respond, for example, if members of the Christian Coalition or the National Republican Party or one of the major PACs coordinated by Karl Rove were funding a local Cambridge candidate? I can understand when close friends and family donate some money from outside Cambridge or Massachusetts, but I am very leery of any candidate who is being funded from afar.

    Comment by Robert Winters — October 29, 2015 @ 2:15 pm

  13. Though candidate Mazen spent nearly $76,000 in his reelection effort (so far), the Mass. Office of Campaign & Political Finance shows an amount nearly $11,000 higher. The reason for this discrepancy is that a nearly $11,000 transfer from one bank account to another is listed among the expenditures. I took the time to actually look at the reports and deducted this amount to give a more accurate measure of the expenditures. I mention this only because in the last few days a lazy version of the information contained in this post appeared elsewhere in which no effort was made to exclude such things as bank balance transfers, returned donations, and other anomalies.

    Comment by Robert Winters — November 30, 2015 @ 10:28 am

  14. I updated this page today replacing some of the HTML tables with PDFs (because they are so much easier to update). I also added some additional details on campaign donations from identifiable real estate/developer interests and from unions/PACs.

    Comment by Robert Winters — December 6, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

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