Family-supported nonprofits such as COFAR and its affiliated organizations have long fought to prevent the wholesale privatization of care for persons with intellectual disabilities. But in recent years, we've begun to feel we're fighting an uphill battle against an administration that is seeking to close almost all the remaining state-run developmental centers in Massachusetts.
Year after year, the Legislature has largely gone along with the administration's privatization agenda. Efforts to enact meaningful cost-benefit analyses of the plans to close the developmental centers, for instance, have made little or no headway in the Legislature.
We think the high volume of campaign contributions from the provider industry has played a role in influencing lawmakers to side with the industry in the debate over closing the developmental centers. Organizations such as the Arc of Massachusetts and its affiliated Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP) have been heavily involved in that lobbying effort. It's probably no surprise, therefore, that key members of those organizations have been prolific campaign contributors.
Ironically, many of these provider executives draw their salaries from state contracts. When they turn around and make campaign contributions, they are just giving back, as it were, to their funders.
The dozen people on our list and the amounts they've contributed since 2005 are:
1. Bruce Bird, president and CEO of Vinfen, $7,025
2. Leo Sarkissian, executive director of the Arc of Massachusetts, $6,290
3. James Cassetta, CEO of Work, Inc., $6,185
4. Michael Weekes, president of the Mass. Council of Human Service Providers, $5,235
5. Susan Wayne, vice president of program development at the Justice Resource Institute, $4,725
6. Frank Sally, vice president of the Arc of Mass., $4,200
7. Gary Lamson, president (retired) of Vinfen, $3,150
8. Gerard McCarthy, executive director of North Shore Arc, $2,200
9. Bonita Keefe-Layden, ADDP second vice chair and CEO of Rehabilitative Resources, Inc., $1,735
10. Gary Blumenthal, executive director of ADDP, $1,700
11. Fred Misilo, immediate past president of the Arc of Mass., $1,500
12. David Jordan, president and CEO of Seven Hills Foundation, $675
Leading recipients of the contributions from these 12 people since 2005 include:
1. Gov. Patrick, $4,690
2. Senate Pres. Therese Murray, $3,825
3. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, $3,400
4. Sen. Karen Spilka, former Senate chair of the Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities Committee, $2,200
5. Senate Majority Leader Fred Berry, $1,620
6. Lt. Gov Tim Murray, $1,525
7. Rep. Barbara L'Italien, $1,450
8. Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, $1,400
9. Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, $1,400
10. Rep. Tom Sannicandro, $1,300
Altogether, the dozen contributors gave to 58 state reps. and senators in the past six years and to a number of other politicians, including Tom Menino, Mitt Romney, Martha Coakley, Bill Delahunt, Suzanne Bump, Tom Reilly and others.
It's also possible to look up contributions by employer on the Office of Campaign and Political Finance website. We found, for instance, that six employees of the Justice Resource Institute contributed a total of $6,575 to a range of candidates since 2005, while seven employees of Vinfen contributed $4,665.
Interestingly, searching only by employer appeared to undercount the contributions. For instance, Vinfen President Bruce Bird alone contributed more than $7,000 since 2005, which is more than was listed for Vinfen as a whole. One reason for this appears to be that Bird and others didn't consistently identify their employers, so many of their contributions didn't show up under the employer listings.
Nevertheless, listings of contributions by employer serve to highlight what is apparently a culture of giving among the provider industry. Only, in this case, the generosity is directed toward their friends on Beacon Hill.