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The origin of money not a serious issue in Boston mayor’s race

Melvin B. Miller

Should “outside” money be acceptable to candidates in Boston’s race for mayor? The color of cash is green. It has no gender and no relevant place of origin. The primary philosophical concerns about money are whether it was honestly acquired, is used to benefit others, and whether hard working citizens can earn enough of it to support their families. Now another consideration has emerged.

In a municipal election there is no reasonable definition of what constitutes “outside” money. In a Boston election is money from Worcester coming from too far away? If a Boston candidate has a rich uncle in California, is it acceptable for him to place issue ads in Boston media to benefit his nephew?

There has been considerable political posturing on the issue, but the major concern should be whether the electorate will benefit. A major battle in the campaign for mayor is whether more charter schools should be authorized. For obvious reasons the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) opposes granting more licenses. A leading candidate in the race, John Connolly, vigorously supports the expansion of charter schools. It is likely that the BTU will use its financial resources to challenge the issue. Stand for Children, a national education nonprofit, is committed to spend up to $500,000 in support of Connolly’s position. The public should hear the debate.

Connolly’s support for charter schools is not a political gambit. It is a deeply felt position on a strategy to improve educational outcomes in the city. It is unreasonable for anyone to expect him to repudiate one of his core values by rejecting a strategy to benefit Boston’s children. Similarly, how would anyone expect Charlotte Golar Richie to reject support from Emily’s List, an organization to aid women’s advancement in electoral politics?

It is well known that money is the mother’s milk of politics. Substantial donations are needed to finance the high cost of television advertising. Those who cannot raise money will not win.

In today’s world made smaller by social media, the concept of “outside” money has become anachronistic. In fact, substantial contributions are rarely cash at all, but electronic financial transfers in cyberspace.