Harrington calls on Hinds to return lobbyists’ contributions



Recorder Staff
Published: 9/1/2016 11:04:56 PM

Democratic Senate candidate Andrea Harrington called on opponent Adam Hinds on Thursday to return campaign contributions from “Boston and out-of-state lobbyists representing large energy companies and big oil.”

Both candidates are vying for the Berkshire-Hampshire-Franklin-Hampden Senate seat as part of a three-way race to be decided in the primary election next Thursday. Rinaldo Del Gallo of Pittsfield is also running in the race to succeed Sen. Ben Downing, who is stepping down.

Harrington, an attorney from Richmond, issued a press statement Thursday criticizing Hinds, a Pittsfield resident who heads the North Berkshire Community Coalition, for donations he received from lobbyists and top officials representing companies including Exxon Mobil, the New England Power Generators Association and Berkshire Gas.

“I am deeply troubled that Adam Hinds has been raising money from Boston and out of state lobbyists representing big fossil fuel conglomerates. Our next State senator needs to be prepared to stand up to these special interests and protect our environment and the natural beauty of our region.”

Harrington added, “I’m further dismayed that at Monday’s forum in Great Barrington, Hinds explicitly stated that he signed a pledge not to accept money from big energy. The people of Berkshire County need a state senator who is an independent voice willing to take on corporate polluters like Kinder Morgan and General Electric. It is concerning that he hasn’t stuck to his word, and I hope that he will return these contributions immediately.”

Hinds said he returned the $250 donation from his friend, John Moore of South Carolina, a graduate school classmate who Hinds says works for Exxon Mobil in Australia, on Aug. 29, the same day that he signed a 350.org pledge not to take more than $200 from big fossil-fuel corporations and realized that the donation had put him in conflict with the pledge.

Although the donors’ report was filed with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance on Aug. 31, it covered the period that had ended Aug. 21, said Hinds.

“This has no bearing on my position battling climate change,” said Hinds. “That’s why I returned the contribution.”

His campaign finance report also includes a $50 contribution from Chris Farrell, a Berkshire Gas public relations official who Hinds said attended a “meet and greet” event and left the unsolicited contribution even though he was aware that Hinds opposes additional natural gas pipelines in the region.

“There’s no ‘there’ there,” said Hinds, who added, “There isn’t much to it.”

The OCPF report also lists contributions of $100 each from Matthew Irish and Thomas O’Neill, lobbyists with O’Neill and Associates, a firm that the candidate said he knew as lobbying for the Massachusetts Organization of Educational Collaboratives, along with other organizations, but was unaware it also represents the New England Power Generators Association and Nouria Energy Group, a chain of New England gas station-convenience stores.

“That came as news to me,” he told The Recorder.

Hinds has also received a $500 contribution from the Massachusetts Dental Society Political Action Committee, and received a $500 contribution from the 1199 Service Employees International Union PAC. Harrington received $750 from Local 888 SEIU PAC.

“I’ve put together a broad coalition of supporters,” Hinds said, with more donations from individuals than any other candidate.”

In a press statement issued in response to Harrington’s criticism later Thursday, Hinds said, “What’s important is I am serious about tackling climate change and accelerating the transition to renewable energy. That’s why I signed the 350-Mass pledge and why I have made energy and the environment a central part of my campaign. That’s why I have support from environmentalists across the district who know I can be a strong and effective voice on this issue.”

Based on their pre-primary OCPF reports, covering the period from Feb. 2 through Aug. 21, he collected $74,917 from 368 donors compared with Harrington’s $20,850 from 94 donors.

During the same period, the third Democratic candidate, Del Gallo, received $500 in total contributions, according to OCPF, and Republican candidate Christine Canning of Lanesborough, with no primary challenger, received $3,185.

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You can reach Richie Davis at:
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