Mayor Thomas M. Menino rakes in $$ from Hub biz bigs, Official denies ‘quid pro quo’

A two-week fund-raising frenzy by Mayor Thomas M. Menino netted thousands of dollars from people who regularly do business before city agencies, a Herald review has found.


Menino, who has yet to say if he’ll seek an unprecedented fifth term, collected more than $130,000 in late December, according to newly filed campaign finance records. Many politically connected developers, businesses and lawyers with city business gave the $500 legal limit. They include:


Samuels & Associates employees, who gave a total of nearly $7,000. A fund-raiser at swank Burton’s was organized by Steve Samuels, a developer whose buildings include the Trilogy complex in the Fenway. Samuels could not be reached.


Ultimate Parking valet mogul Andrew Tuchler and his employees, who gave $2,000. The firm is licensed by the city and benefited from a city crackdown on black-market valets.


Other law firms included Brown Rudnick, the Boston Herald’s law firm, which also represents developers. It gave $4,200.


Boston Red Sox CFO Mike Dee gave $500. City Hall has lavished perks on the Red Sox, such as allowing them to close Lansdowne Street, a public way, on game days.


“People who want access, who want to create good will, they’re the ones who contribute,” said Common Cause director Pam Wilmot. “And that’s a problem.”


David Passafaro, the mayor’s money man, said there is no quid pro quo.


“I don’t think anybody thinks any political figure goes out of his way for $500,” Passafaro said.


A $500 donation by John Rosenthal, president of Meredith Management, may violate the mayor’s longstanding policy of not accepting donations from people with business before a city agency.


His 1.3-million-square-foot project near the Mass Pike is under review by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.


Rosenthal said his project has been in the works for nearly a decade without final city approval. “The process has been anything but expedited,” he said.


Menino has more than $1.5 million in the bank, dwarfing potential opponents.


Menino in past years has run afoul of his own ban on donations from people actively seeking approvals from the BRA, Zoning Board of Appeals or Inspectional Services, and Passafaro said those are returned. But he said a broader ban against donors who routinely seek city approval - such as Samuels Associates - doesn’t make sense.


“People have a right to support a public official,” he said. “People who do this for a living . . . they do business in the city and they should be able to participate in its civic life.”


Date: 1/8/2009 12:00:00 AM