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SuperPAC Boosting Latinos Spent Nearly 100 Grand from West to East in Prelims…

Orlando Ramos

The SuperPAC kept up its spending pace for Ramos until the end, but it also looked east… (still via YouTube/Focus Springfield)

A fresh batch of filings reveal the full flow of SuperPAC money into Springfield’s municipal preliminary last week. The Hispanic Latino Leaders Now Independent Expenditure PAC (HLLN) upended the electoral mood, if not the results, when it began spending thousands of dollars to boost Latino candidates. Principal among them was State Rep Orlando Ramos, who failed to advance in the race against Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

The filings show the SuperPAC’s funder, Cesar Ruiz, upped his total investment to $150,000. It also showed the beneficiaries of HLLN’s largesse extended beyond the 413. While most of the SuperPAC’s cash went west, HLLN also spent money on two Boston City Councilors who did not survive their city’s preliminary.

In addition to a fresh report to the Office of Campaign & Politics Finance, HLLN has been amending prior filings. Reports clearly now label whom HLLN intends its spending to support. Others whom the SuperPAC’s filings once reference no longer appear as beneficiaries.

“The original report had items listed that had not been expended at the time the report was due, and in consultation with the OCPF, we amended the report to include only those items that had been expended,” said Al Maiorino, a spokesperson for HLLN.

HLLN made a splash last month when it announced its formation to support Latino candidates statewide. However, its original and sole backer was Ruiz, an East Longmeadow businessman in the adult care services space. He contributed the group’s first $100,000. A September 13 report shows he gave HLLN an additional $50,000 on September 6.

Despite a broad mandate, HLLN quickly marshalled significant support for Ramos specifically. With the amendments and the report from this weekend, the SuperPAC spent more than $52,000 to support Ramos’ unsuccessful mayoral bid.

Candidate campaigns and SuperPACs cannot coordinate under state campaign finance law. Last month, Ramos said he had no involvement with HLLN.

Arroyo Lara

Boston Councilors Ricardo Arroyo and Kendra Lara, who lost their prelims last week, got some late support from HLLN. (via Boston City Hall)

Aside from Ramos, HLLN spent in only one other mayoral race. A modest sum went to boost Delmarina López, Chicopee Mayor John Vieau’s sole challenger this year. The rest of the candidates HLLN supported before September 12, when Springfield and Boston held preliminaries, were all council aspirants. They were Victor Davila, Jose Delgado, Edward Nunez and Norman Roldan in Springfield and Ricardo Arroyo and Kendra Lara in Boston.

Arroyo and Lara were two Boston councilors HLLN supported, although their names were not on HLLN’s endorsement list. The other candidates were all running for Springfield City Council. Arroyo and Lara, both district councilors, suffered a series of controversies this cycle. They became the first councilors to lose reelection in a preliminary since Boston adopted district Council seats.

The amendments mostly consist of expense adjustment and/or more clearly identifying the intended beneficiaries of spending. Outside spenders in elections must identify whom the expenditure supports or opposes. Some of this was obliquely discernable in HLLN’s earlier filings. However, had HLLN initially filed correctly, whom it had supported would have been readily apparent.

The modifications to the two August reports, aside from clearly identifying candidates HLLN supported, were relatively minor. Less than $1000 changed in either report. Additional details the amendments added include robocalls and canvassers that HLLN hired. The August 27 report experienced the largest dollar shifts, though the net difference was still minimal. The biggest change was the addition of new consultant fees and ads to boost Ramos.

Notably, spending to support another Springfield Council candidate was removed. Brian Santaniello, a former city councilor who works for Ruiz—or with him depending on whom you ask—had received HLLN’s endorsement. Apparently, that money the SuperPAC originally earmarked to support him never got out the door.

“While Mr. Santaniello was endorsed by our PAC, we did not expend any money to promote this candidacy, and the transcription error with the OCPF report was corrected with the amendment,” Maiorino, the HLLN spokesperson, said.

Springfield City Hall

Even after pulling back from spending on Santaniello, most of HLLN’s investment was on Springfield races. (WMP&I)

The third report originally came across the transom on September 13. However, HLLN heavily edited it over the weekend. Nearly $13,000 were added to the original $38,704 for a grand total of $51,376 from August 28 to September 13. It was in this report that the first expenses for Arroyo, Lara, López and Davila appeared.

Only $600 each was spent on Davila and López “Scripts, Placement of Ads, Direct Mailer Copy and Design, Facebook Post And Management [sic], Facebook Ads.” It is not clear when or if HLNN placed any ads for Davila and López. López had no preliminary and will not face voters before November. Davila did have a preliminary, advancing to November alongside Shanequa Fryar.

It does appear HLLN spent more substantial amount in Boston. About $4,018 went to printing and direct mail to support Lara. By comparison, HLLN doled out $7550 to support Arroyo, also for printing including, ostensibly, print ads.

HLLN clamed that these expenditures, which occurred between September 6 and 13, did not need diisclosure before September 12 preliminary. They were its only expenses on candidates outside Western Massachusetts, although it had scheduled a Worcester event that seemingly fell through.

Neither Arroyo nor Lara’s campaigns responded to a respond to a request for comment.

Back in the 413, HLLN spent about $7,875 in this period on canvassers for Delgado, Nunez, Ramos and Roldan. The same vendor, Marcus Printing in Holyoke, received about $7,000 for campaign ads, marketing and direct mail to benefit Delgado and Nunez. Springfield voters received a mailer advocating for both of them.

Public Strategies Group received $6,450 in this period. The Connecticut consultant firm—where Maiorino works—earned $4,000 working to benefit Ramos and Roldan. The $600 for Davila and López came under the remaining $2,450. The other $1,250 translated to work performed supporting Delgado and Nunez.

To support only Ramos, HLLN spent another $10,000 in cable television ads and nearly $2,257 in “campaign marketing. Television ad production came in at nearly $4,000. Another $750 went toward fresh text messaging. The SuperPAC dropped $2,650 in support of Ramos on an Iowa City, Iowa polling company. It has spent a similar amount on polling August.

Assuming there have not been any other heretofore unreported expenses or contributions, HLLN has about $59,000 left in its kitty. But after spending $91,000 in support of candidates across the state, the track record is somewhat grim. Only Davila, Delgado and López made it to general elections. Of the three, HLLN only spent serious cash—about $10,000—on Delgado. He placed fifth in the preliminary, a good sign for November. López has not actually faced voters, but oddsmakers largely expect Vieau to win. Davila, an incumbent Springfield ward councilor, stomped in his preliminary, earning 69% of the vote.

The other $80,000 backed candidates who did not advance beyond September 12.