Coakley, Berwick Will Use More Than $300K each of Taxpayer’s Money to Fund Campaign

COAKLEYBOSTON – Two candidates for governor have qualified for matching public funds for their primary election campaigns, according to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

According to OCPF, Democratic gubernatorial candidates Donald Berwick and Attorney General Martha Coakley have submitted the necessary qualifying contributions and were certified by OCPF to receive funding. Each candidate’s campaign received these totals, the maximum amounts available:

Donald Berwick: $308,976

Martha Coakley: $308,976

Under the public financing law, M.G.L. Chapter 55C, a statewide candidate who is opposed, has agreed to observe a statutory spending limit and submits the minimum amount of qualifying contributions is eligible to receive public matching funds.

The State Election Campaign Fund contained $1,235,905 as of June 30, according to the state Comptroller’s Office.

That amount was split in half – $617,952 was made available for the primary election and the same amount was set aside for the general election. The law calls for candidates for governor to be funded first, with any remaining funds to be distributed to candidates for the other five statewide offices who are eligible to receive public financing. Because two gubernatorial candidates qualified to receive funding, and Berwick and Coakley split the $617,952 available for the primary, there were no funds available for other statewide races.

To participate in the public financing program and receive matching funds, candidates must agree to abide by statutory spending limits for both the primary and general elections. Berwick and Coakley originally agreed to the statutory spending limit of $1.5 million for the primary (June 4 to Sept. 9), but that figure was increased because their opponent, current state Treasurer Steven Grossman, who is not participating in the public financing program, set a higher spending limit of $9 million for the Democratic primary. In the Republican primary for governor, the primary spending limit is $5 million, set by Charles Baker.

After the primary, all remaining candidates who have not agreed to limit spending and who are opposed in the general election by candidates who have agreed to limit spending will have to declare their self-imposed limit for the final seven-week general election campaign (Sept. 10 to Nov. 4). Unenrolled candidates must file statements by Aug. 26 declaring whether they will participate in the public financing program.

In 2010, more than $1.4 million was distributed to seven candidates running for statewide office. In the primary, $525,163 was distributed to four candidates (three for auditor and one for treasurer). In the general election, $894,689 was distributed to five candidates (one for governor, one for attorney general, one for secretary and two for auditor).

Public financing for campaigns has been in place for every statewide election since 1978. The sole source of funding for public financing in Massachusetts is the State Election Campaign Fund, which allows taxpayers to direct $1 from their tax liability on their annual income tax returns to the fund.

source: State Office of Campaign and Political Finance.