L'Italien reports show support from colleagues, lobbyists

TIM JEAN/Staff file photo  State Sen. Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover, is a candidate for the 3rd Congressional District.

Along with Lawrence state Rep. Juana Matias, state Sen. Barbara L'Italien is one of two active legislators currently in the running to succeed Niki Tsongas in the 3rd District.

So far, of the over $319,000 in contributions she has received so far in her congressional run, the Andover Democrat has received more than $50,000 from Massachusetts lobbyists along with current and former Beacon Hill colleagues.

According to her most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission, L'Italien received over $4,000 from Kearney, Donovan and McGee, a Boston-based government relations firm led by former Suffolk County Sheriff Dennis Kearney, who contributed $2,000 himself to L'Italien's campaign.

Michelle McGee and Paul Donovan, attorneys with the firm, contributed $1,000 and $500 respectively to L'Italien's campaign. Anthony Petruccelli, former Senate colleague of L'Italien's from East Boston who now works for Kearney, Donovan and Mcgee, also contributed $500.

According to FEC reports, Petruccelli isn't the only former legislator to chip in for L'Italien. She also received $500 donations from former state Sen. Steven Baddour of Methuen and former state Rep. John Fernandes of Milford. Prior to her election to the state Senate — where she has represented Andover, Lawrence, Dracut and Tewksbury since 2015 — L'Italien served in the state House of Representatives from 2003 to 2011.

The largest contributions to her campaign came from former legislators came from two former House colleagues, Tom Sannicandro of Ashland and Alice Wolf of Cambridge, who gave multiple donations each totaling $1,550 and $750, respectively.

Sannicandro left the Legislature in 2017 to become the director of the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston.

Contributions to L'Italien's campaign have also come from current legislators, namely a $1,000 donation from state Rep. Cory Atkins of Concord — who is retiring at the end of the year — and a $500 contribution from state Sen. John Keenan of Quincy and a $250 contribution from state Rep. Paul Schmid of Westport.

The committees to elect Schmid, Reps. Angelo Scaccia of Boston and Ruth Balser of Newton, Sens. Joan Lovely and Michael Brady of Salem and Brockton, and former Boston Sen. Linda Dorcena-Forry all gave between $100 and $1,000 to L'Italien's campaign.

The legislative connections continue into the private sector, as L'Italien also received a $250 contribution from Arthur Bernard, an attorney for Travaglini, Eisenberg, Kiley, a government relations firm run by Robert Travaglini, former state Senate president from East Boston.

"During my 15 years in Boston, all of these people have been colleagues and friends. Cory (Atkins) sat next to me in the House and her family has benefited from autism legislation I've worked to pass," said L'Italien Thursday. "Linda (Dorcena-Forry) has been one of my best friends in the Senate, and Anthony (Petruccelli) shared an office with me."

During the 2016 election, L'Italien — who was endorsed by the Mass. Teachers Association — was a vociferous opponent of Question 2, a state ballot initiative which would have lifted an existing cap on charter schools that was voted down by an almost 2-1 margin.

Despite her support from the state's largest teachers union, many of L'Italien's former and current legislative donors have pro-charter school leanings. Petruccelli, a member of the advisory council for the Massachusetts branch of Democrats for Education Reform, received a 90 percent rating from the pro-charter school group.

L'Italien herself received only a 30 percent rating from the DFER in 2016.

Cory Atkins, Linda Dorcena-Forry, and Paul Schmid received DFER ratings of 83 percent, 79 percent and 75 percent in 2016. The only legislators whose election committees donated to L'Italien and approached her DFER rating were Joan Lovely, John Keenan and Michael Brady, who were rated 36 percent, 36 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

Asked of these pro-charter legislators and donors, L'Italien said she doesn't consider Atkins a "pro-charter" legislator.

"During my time in the house, I also worked with David Torrisi (former North Andover representative), who was also pro-charter school. We always agreed to disagree on that," she said.

South Boston lobbyist William Coyne chipped in $1,000 for L'Italien's campaign. Coyne has done lobbying work in the past for Raytheon, the Waltham-based defense contractor which has facilities in both Andover and Tewksbury, both located in L'Italien's senate district.

Another Boston-based lobbyist, Martin Corry, has contributed $600 to L'Italien. One of Corry's clients is the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which endorsed L'Italien's congressional bid in late January.

Not all of the donors listed on L'Italien's end-of-year FEC filing hail from traditional Democratic quarters.

Ernie Boch Jr., the CEO of Boch Enterprises, the car dealership empire in eastern Massachusetts, contributed $250 to L'Italien's campaign. Boch was among the most prominent local supporters of President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

L'Italien's brother-in-law, entrepreneur Bruce Quinn of Jupiter, Florida, gave $5,400 to the campaign, with the money being split between primary and general election accounts.

Her sister Susan Quinn also made a split donation of $5,400 to L'Italien, along with her nephews Nicholas, Parker and Zackery Quinn, who each gave $5,400 split donations.

L'Italien said her brother-in-law was involved in computer tutorial software development in the 1990s, is involved in real estate in Florida, and owns a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Washington Nationals.

Other notable donors include Beverly Schwartz, a software engineer from Somerville, who donated $2,700 to L'Italien. Miriam Schwartz, also of Somerville, made a split contribution of $5,400 to L'Italien. Another software engineer, Kenneth Thompson of Boxford, also gave a split $5,400 donation, according to FEC filings.

Two other donations totaling $2,100 came from Lexington-based consultant Pete Kovner.

Follow Peter Francis on Twitter @PeterMFrancis