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Briefings: The April Campaign Finance Showers before May(oral) Flowers…


Better weather, better challenger campaign finance…? (WMP&I)

Challengers to Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno enjoyed some brisk fundraising as the race itself picks up speed. While May reports, which will be due in a few days, should show whether candidates can maintain this pace, the April numbers—combined with some of the mayor’s spending choices—could alter some of the assumptions about the money race.

Although he retained his monster cash-on-hand advantage, Sarno raised only $950 in April, less than all three of his principal opponents. City Council President Jesse Lederman raised $10,538, which put him among the top mayoral fundraisers statewide during the fourth month of the year. At-large Councilor Justin Hurst brought in $6,295 while State Rep Orlando Ramos raised $3,397.

Alone, these figures did not alter the nature of the race. Despite spending $23,000, the mayor still has nearly $243,000 in the bank. In May, preliminary data suggests he will not be last in fundraising. Only Lederman eked out a net gain from the April fundraising, but Ramos and Hurst still lead him in cash on hand.

Still, the mayor’s burn rate has made his war chest look less intimidating. Meanwhile, his opponents’ operations have the resources they need for now.

In April, $19,000 went to the Awards Company for signs and bumper stickers. However, for the price, it would likely be a massive order from the East Forest Park business. Another $3,400 went to David Horgan, Sarno’s videographer who has also done social media work for the mayor.

WMP&I has previously reported that Sarno spent at least $10,000 just on inviting people to his May 17 kickoff at the Greek Cultural Center. However, most and perhaps all of that are due to appear in his May campaign finance report.

Jesse Lederman

Lederman at his kickoff in March. In April, he was among the top mayoral fundraisers in the state. But will it be enough? (WMP&I)

Despite hitting five figures in fundraising, all but six of Lederman’s donations were under $500. Those who gave that much included property real estate manager Walter Kroll, Local 1459 of the United Food & Commercial Workers, and his mother, Elizabeth. Ben Swan, Jr., the son of the former State Rep—and a one-time candidate for the seat himself—gave Lederman $700.

On the spending side in April, Lederman spend about $3,000 on printing campaign literature and materials and another $2,000 on video services. His cash on hand at the end of April was $15,896.

Likewise, Hurst did not have many donors give a lot at once in April. He received three donations of $1,000, the annual max under state law, from a therapist and pair of individuals who run an HVAC business. Hurst’s largest expense was on staff and consultants, which came to $4750 for the month of April. He spent about another $1800 on campaign materials. He ended April with $36,646.

Ramos had only two contributions of $500 or more in April. One was from the political action committee for the Massachusetts and Northern New England Laborers. He also received a $500 from the personal account of House colleague Francisco Paulino. Reps Pat Haddad of Somerset, John Mahoney of Worcester and Daniel Ryan of Boston each gave $100. Mahoney paid via his campaign committee while the other two used their personal accounts.

Orlando Ramos

Ramos’ colleagues in the House have been donating to his campaign. (still via YouTube/WWLP)

Ramos had few large expenses in April. He spent $477 at Carrie Nation, a popular fundraising spot on Beacon Hill and another $552 on lodging during budget week at the House. His next largest expenses were for graphic design ($400) and web services ($350). Ramos closed out April with $51,163.

Therapist David Ciampi, also a mayoral candidates raised $2500 in April, all from himself.

Each of the candidates’ files with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign & Political Finance show routine requests for additional information. Some of these were resolved in April. Both Hurst and Lederman had requests for clarification of expenditure that they resolved last month.

Sarno has several such queries. The only one that resolved during that month was from March, as previously reported. Two issues OCPF identified with Sarno’s campaign in April related to missing deposit records and clarity of expenditures, including whether subvendors were used. The Sarno campaign resolved the latter by reporting more information about the expenses.

Sarno filed a report on May 29 detailing almost $6,950 in previously undisclosed contributions from February. The amount had showed up in his bank’s reports to OCPF, but with no other details. Several donors were local. A few were from as far away as Wayland and Boxford. A mysterious Casella Resource Solutions Employee PAC, which has a Vermont address, gave $1,000. In May, OCPF alerted Sarno’s campaign the PAC’s donation exceed allowable limits by $500.