Political Circuit

Caffeine and doughnuts fuel democratic process

Arthur Bernard, government affairs liaison for UMass Arthur Bernard,
affairs liaison
for UMass
February 6, 2011

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When state Senator Michael W. Morrissey of Quincy was elected Norfolk district attorney in November, that’s not all he won.

Morrissey’s campaign also finished far ahead of every other candidate in the state in campaign spending at Dunkin’ Donuts, which appears to provide the fuel — and waist-expanding calories — that propel many a campaign.

By any standard, Morrissey’s campaign staff was the most caffeinated in state political history, according to expenditures reported to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Scores of candidates statewide spent a total of $23,899 at Dunkin’ Donuts in 2010, and the Morrissey campaign alone accounted for $4,734 of that.

For Morrissey, Dunkin’ Donuts is not a newly acquired taste, either. Over the last nine years, all Massachusetts politicians have reported spending $100,090 overall at Dunkin’ Donuts — $9,001 of that by Morrissey’s campaign committee.

Perhaps because the first Dunkin’ Donuts shop opened in Quincy in 1950?

Second place, over the nine years, is a virtual tie between House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo of Winthrop and Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, a Revere Democrat. Each spent just over $5,000 at Dunkin’ Donuts.

At least among the political class, Starbucks was not even a close second — $4,548 since 2002.


Is ex-aide a lobbyist or public servant?

Governor Deval Patrick’s former chief of staff is joining the ranks of lobbyists — or is he?

It turns out Arthur Bernard is neither here nor there when it comes to the state’s lobbying law. Yes, he may be up in the State House from time to time looking for money or help with a bill. But there’s a debate about whether he will have to officially register as a lobbyist.

Bernard, who is about to become vice chancellor for government relations and public affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston, is among a corps of “government affairs’’ liaisons who lobby one arm of the government on behalf of another. Bernard held the job before joining the governor’s office in 2008 and after a stint as a top state Senate aide.

Last week, Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s office initially urged Bernard to register as a lobbyist, saying the reports that Bernard would have to file about his spending and activities would help shine a light on how government money and time was being spent.

But later, Galvin’s aides found an official memo suggesting there is no requirement for government affairs officials who work for the state.

Said Bernard: “Whatever the requirement of the law is, I will follow it.’’


A Frank conversation raises questions

Many politicians are especially solicitous when announcing a reelection bid. Not so with US Representative Barney Frank, who treated a sit-down interview to discuss his run for a 17th term in the US House as an opportunity to question the questioner.

Here’s a sampling of some of his retorts. The questions are left out, but the reader can glean what Frank thought of them:

“I’m really surprised by the question. I don’t understand.’’

“Would you give me an example of something I said specifically that would be inappropriate now . . . I would have thought asking the question you would have reference to something.’’

“The premise of your question was that I might be saying things that were inappropriate.’’

“You may have some confusion there about what was involved.’’

“I would disagree with your premise.’’

“You have premises that continue to be problematic.’’

“Are you not aware of that?’’


Weighing cost of a council

What costs more than a beer at Fenway Park ($7.25), but less than a movie ticket at AMC Loews on Boston Common ($11.50)?

Here’s a hint: The same mitt full of money would buy five trips on the T ($8.50) or cover most of the check for a Famous Rumanian Pastrami sandwich at Sam La Grassa’s ($9.50).

That’s right: The Boston City Council.

According to a new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which compared and contrasted 15 city councils across the country, each inhabitant of this city pays $9.15 in taxes each year to support the City Council.

The study found that Boston’s 13-seat legislative branch has a total budget including employee health insurance of $5.9 million. On most points of comparison, from council members’ salaries to average years in office, the Boston City Council finished somewhere in the middle, including the $9.15 price tag per resident.

“That doesn’t sound bad,’’ quipped Stephen J. Murphy, the City Council president. “I’m going to make a pledge to the people of Boston to make sure we are worth every penny.’’


Tweet of the week
Should we call it surprise of the week? Amid mounting speculation that he would retire, US Representative Barney Frank last week threw — or kept — his hat in the ring for 2012. One problem: The state’s US House delegation has 10 members, but after next year’s elections, there will only be nine seats. A political consultant who goes by @RMCStrategies tweeted Thursday, “Looks like one option for [easier] redistricting is gone . . . Barney Frank says he won’t retire.’’