“A million dollars today is a very significant contribution, whether the givers will acknowledge it or not,” Boyle said. “They are all savvy business people — they don’t invest a million dollars without expecting something in return.”
That said, some contributors say they are none too thrilled with the current system either.
One of the most prolific contributors to political campaigns in Massachusetts and nationally, Barbara Lee said the system needs reform.
“I am a strong proponent of reforming our campaign finance system, because a campaign finance system that best serves the interests of the public is one that is transparent and levels the playing field for all people,” Lee wrote in an email to NECIR.
Albert Merck, a former director of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. was blunter when reached by phone at his Lexington home.
Merck has given thousands over the past two years to the Massachusetts Republican Party and to promising state legislative candidates fielded by the state’s minority party, as well as to Sen. Scott Brown and Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney.
A lifelong Republican, Merck would like to see more competition in Democrat-dominated Massachusetts.
But he also made clear he finds the current, increasingly money dominated political system distasteful, arguing it is “corrupting the system.”
“If you want to run, you can’t run without good amounts of money,” Merck said. “We are trapped.”
The New England Center for Investigative Reporting is a nonprofit investigative newsroom based at Boston University and supported in part by media outlets that include The Eagle-Tribune. This story was done in collaboration with the Investigative News Network.
For this story, NECIR teamed up with the Investigative News Network to examine the top contributors to campaign coffers and political committees in Massachusetts and six other states. The Center for Responsive Politics provided the federal data while the state data was provided by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.