LAWRENCE — Mayor Daniel Rivera on Thursday will hold his third campaign fundraiser since he was re-elected 13 months ago, even though he is barred from running for a third term in 2021 and said he has no plans — currently — to run for another office then.
In all, Rivera has raised more than $50,000 since his last campaign ended Nov. 7, 2017, when he defeated William Lantigua’s comeback bid, his financial disclosure forms show. Since, Rivera’s campaign organization has spent money as fast as it came in, leaving him with just $3,486 in the bank as of Nov. 30.
Rivera’s St. Patrick’s Day campaign fundraiser at the Claddagh restaurant on Canal Street in March raised about $15,000, and another fundraiser for business leaders in June raised $23,000, his disclosure forms show. Tickets to his Holiday Celebration fundraiser at Salvatore’s restaurant on Merrimack Street on Thursday are selling for up to $1,000 for a table for 10.
What’s a non-candidate to do with all that loot?
“It’s important for us to continue to support the campaign apparatus,” Rivera said Tuesday. “We support a lot of things that city funds can’t pay for that help us maintain our political stature and in moving stuff for the city.”
He said that includes supporting other candidates, sending flowers to people when family members die, attending professional conference such as one on the future of cities held in New Orleans that he recently attended and “helping constituents with things they might need.”
Spending forms by his campaign organization over the last two months show it gave $82 worth of liquor from Mount Vernon Liquors to an unidentified constituent. It spent another $69 for Halloween candy.
“I get tons of kids showing up at my door,” Rivera said about his Thomas Road home at Halloween. “And let me tell you, if the mayor doesn’t have candy, it doesn’t look good for the home team.”
Also over the last two months, Rivera’s campaign organization gave a total of $700 to Groundwork Lawrence, a local dominoes club and a scholarship fund honoring Bruce Arnold, a local radio personality who died in 2015, his financial disclosure forms show. He made no contributions to other political candidates.
Rivera spent much more for political purposes, including $540 to maintain a fund-raising data base, $371 for postage, $1,149 for food for the upcoming fundraiser at Sal’s, and $389 to feed campaign volunteers at fast-food chains like Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and Wendy’s and local restaurants like Eli’s Place, Paisano’s Pizzera and Terra Luna, the disclosure forms he’s filed since Oct. 1 show.
Much of the charitable donations Rivera’s campaign organization made recently may have been paid out of from the $4,700 in donations it received from a campaign scam run by Michel Lupoli, who used a family company run by his brother, Sal, to funnel nearly $13,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Rivera and a dozen other prominent elected officials in Lawrence, Haverhill, Andover, Lowell and elsewhere at a time when Sal Lupoli was seeking approvals for sizable developments in each of the four municipalities. Sal Lupoli owns the Riverwalk development, where Rivera will host his fund-raiser Thursday.
Politicians who OCPF directs to “disgorge” illegal campaign contributions are not permitted to return them to the donors who made them. Instead, they may donate them to the state’s general fund or to a municipality, charity or scholarship of their choice.
OCPF said it has no evidence that Rivera or any of the other 13 officials who received the illegal contributions were aware that Michael Lupoli had funneled the money to them
Sal Lupoli was not implicated in the scam. Michael Lupoli agreed to pay $30,000 to settle the allegations.
Rivera said again Tuesday that he expects to return to the private sector when his term expires. He said he won’t be going back to his former employer, BirdDog Solutions in Andover, a shipping consultant, but said his master’s degree in business administration and his two terms governing a city of 80,000 will help his job search.
As to running for another office, Rivera said at this time he doesn’t plan to.
“I have no current intentions to run for any public office, but clearly we have work to do now,” Rivera said about his last three years as mayor. He also dismissed rumors, again, that he’s talked to Gov. Charlie Baker about a job in his administration.
Rivera will be 48 on Dec. 23.