The Same Old State House Politics? Maybe Not

1192721775Leading with a story on how Gov. Deval Patrick and his Lieutenant, Tim Murray, have been reeling in loads of special interest money, today’s Globe certainly seems to splash some mud in the face of our “Politics of Hope” Governor. Murray gets plenty of attention in the story as well, but here’s the nut of the thing as it relates to the Governor:

Patrick has collected $775,000, mostly from dozens of fund-raisers thrown for him by a wide array of interests that do business with state agencies and authorities under his control. High on the list of the governor’s contributors are lawyers from Boston’s elite firms, prominent developers, healthcare executives, and leaders of regulated utilities and insurance companies.

Considering Patrick’s consistent railing against special interests, this all seems pretty damning. But is it really?

I dialed up one of our favorite State House insiders today, who couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. Patrick has been accepting contributions from special interests since he started running for Governor, he said.

So, we went back to the records and checked. Turns out that it’s true, just about every special interest donor mentioned in this morning’s Globe story contributed to Patrick during his campaign. For instance, between July and November, the story says Patrick pocketed $65,000 from donors in real estate development, including money from big shots like John Drew.

Well, according to a search of the state’s website, between January 1, 2006 and election day, November 14, 2006, Patrick received 47 different contributions of at least $500 from people in real estate. On October 25, 2006, in the teeth of the campaign’s stretch run, John Drew donated $500 to the would-be governor.

The story also cites Patrick roping in more than $16,000 from the firm Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo, whose lobbying division, ML Strategies, is a State House fixture. According to our search, from Jan. 1, 2006 to election day, 99 donations were made by lawyers listing Mintz Levin or ML Strategies as their employer. So once again, this is nothing new. The Globe story even points out that despite taking money from Mintz Levin, Patrick showed no compunction in forcing out ML Strategies President Stephen Tocco from his perch as UMass chairman.

We’re not saying that Patrick is immune to special interests — no politicians are — we’re just wondering why this is a big deal right now, considering that all of it has been part of the public record for some time.