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Mass. donors give $400,000 to Weld's N.Y. campaign

Most came from executives of firm with Healey ties

Former governor William F. Weld, in his bid to become New York's next governor, has collected $270,000 in campaign donations from executives at the wealthy investment firm headed by Lieutenant Governor Kerry M. Healey's husband.

Five executives from Affiliated Managers Group, including Sean M. Healey, its chief executive, and Darrell W. Crate, its chief financial officer, have contributed $48,527 each to Weld's New York political accounts. William J. Nutt, chairman of the AMG board, donated $25,000 and three other executives gave $1,000 each. Weld served on the firm's board from 1998 to 2004.

Overall, Weld collected about $400,000 from Massachusetts donors, or about one-fifth of the nearly $2 million he raised since he announced his interest in the race in August, according to campaign finance reports filed yesterday for the final months of 2005. He is trailing far behind his potential Democratic opponent, Eliot Spitzer, who reported this week that he has more than $19 million on hand. Neither Weld nor his campaign manager was available to comment yesterday.

Other donors included Governor Mitt Romney, who gave $500, and former governor Paul Cellucci, who gave $5,000. Cellucci was Weld's lieutenant governor and close political ally.

Weld also received $1,000 from former House speaker Thomas M. Finneran, a conservative Democrat who was indicted by a federal grand jury in June on charges he committed perjury in a civil case challenging the Legislature's redistricting plans. Weld, a Republican, had a close working relationship with Finneran.

Crate said yesterday Affiliated Managers Group's financial support stems from the close relationships that Weld developed with the firm's executives and other board members during his time on the board.

''Bill served as a director in the company and I think he is a good man and a good public servant," Crate said.

''We should do all we can to support good folks throwing their hat in the public arena." In Massachusetts, the maximum for individual donations to a gubernatorial candidate is $500 a year. In New York, individuals can give a maximum of $48,527 to a candidate.

''Bill lent his prominence, stature, and reputation which enabled us to get recognition with shareholders, prospective affiliates, and business partners," Crate said. ''That's all part of our success. I am grateful for his guidance and friendship."

Weld collected $1 million after he resigned in 2004 from the AMG board and cashed in stock options that had been given him when he joined the board. When he became a director, the stock was selling at $15.67 a share. When he left, the stock had risen to $53.40, according to Crate. It was selling yesterday at $86.12.

With its donations to Weld, AMG is demonstrating that it is a major political player in GOP circles.

Aides to Kerry Healey, who is seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination this year, have indicated that her campaign will be financed in good part by the $13 million in AMG stock options that her husband cashed out last year. Before taking the options, Sean Healey owned $81.9 million in AMG stock as of April 1.

AMG executives have also funneled about $30,000 to $40,000 a year to the Republican State Committee during the time Crate has chaired the committee.

AMG was the focus of considerable controversy last fall over a $1.2 million tax credit it received in 2001 under a state program created by Weld when he was governor that was aimed at luring corporations to locate in distressed economic areas.

AMG received the tax break after it located its headquarters in Beverly's Prides Crossing section, one of Massachusetts' wealthiest neighborhoods. AMG returned the tax break in October.

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