MCNS Articles
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
  The Boston Globe

September 14, 2005, Wednesday THIRD EDITION


LENGTH: 623 words



BEVERLY Past the imposing though securely locked front gates of state Republican Party headquarters otherwise known as Affiliated Managers Group Sean Healey has made a fortune buying small- and medium-size money-management firms. Now Healey wants to buy an election for his wife.

I think it is sweet. Most of us believe we are doing OK if we manage to buy some jewelry for our wife's birthday or get a reservation at a pretty good restaurant for the anniversary. But Healey wants to buy his wife, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, the governorship. What's money for if the family can't enjoy it?

Being a Republican candidate in Massachusetts is more like belonging to a private club than a political party. It is a small, small world, and the gracious mansion on Beverly's "Gold Coast" that AMG built with the help of a state tax break is an appropriate symbol of just how small read: wired this exclusive club is.

Consider: While Sean Healey, AMG's chief executive, tries to remain carefully out of sight, he is preparing to once again spend whatever it takes on his wife's political campaign. He has the state Republican chairman, Darrell Crate, on his payroll as AMG's chief financial officer. And until last year former Massachusetts governor William Weld was on the AMG board; now he's running for the Republican nomination for governor in New York.

Healey, though a spokesman, declined to talk about politics, but his money will talk loudly on his wife's behalf. It already has. Four years ago the Healeys spent $1.8 million on her campaign. Last month as Harvard Pilgrim chief executive Charlie Baker was considering the race, Sean Healey sent a not-so-subtle message by cashing in $13 million in AMG options. Baker promptly dropped out.

AMG prospered by building a better mouse trap. In 1995, William Nutt, former president of the investment firm Boston Co., recruited Healey from Goldman, Sachs & Co. to join AMG, then a year-old start-up designed to buy investment firms. Another Boston company, United Asset Management, was then the king of the hill, but it had a fatal flaw: It bought total control of the firms, leaving the money managers it acquired with little incentive to continue growing. Nutt's model, however, left the managers he acquired with enough equity to keep them engaged. The result: UAM faltered, while AMG grew. Today AMG owns stakes in about two dozen investment companies with about $163 billion under management. It has a market value of $2.5 billion. Forbes last year valued Healey's stake at $45 million.

Sean Healey doesn't have a state trooper to drive him to work, but he doesn't need it: A few years ago AMG built its headquarters in Prides Crossing, an elite section of Beverly, just 1 1/2 miles from the Healeys' oceanfront home. The headquarters mansion sits on an 89-acre estate once owned fittingly enough by conservative New Hampshire publisher William Loeb, whose Manchester Union-Leader used to take pride in making Democrats weep. And AMG rebuilt the estate with the use of a $1 million tax credit intended for blighted areas or projects considered too costly to develop. Just wondering: Did that tax break go for the locked gates out front or the tennis court out back?

Under campaign finance rules, Sean Healey can only give $500 a year to his wife's campaign. But under those same rules, Sean's income and Kerry's income she doesn't take a salary as lieutenant governor are considered one, allowing them to spend whatever they want on the campaign. In matters like these, nothing says "I love you" like cash. 
  Paper: Boston Globe
Date: April 4, 1982

Perhaps this study should be filed under political anthropology, since it involves a genus. A genus which, as former House Speaker David Bartley quips, "should apply for protection under the endangered species act."

The Massachusetts Yankee politician was an institution when one's grandparents arrived and he's since passed from there through stereotype to caricature.
As in lanky build, angular face. The letter s' whistling through his teeth. Lives on Beacon Hill or the North Shore. Went to Harvard, more likely than not. Wasn't concerned with the money. Ran for office because he felt he should.

"The people you meet, the problems you confront, the absence of routine," says former US senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. "Those were natural baits for a person like me."

For two centuries they've lured dozens of Lodges, Saltonstalls, Herters, Coolidges and Bradfords to Congress, the governor's chair, the Legislature.

And now John Winthrop Sears, whose grandfather-to-the-nth-power was Massachusetts' first governor, has invoked that ethos in his Republican gubernatorial campaign this year.

He recalls the "clean, decent Massachusetts" of former governors Leverett Saltonstall and Christian Herter, when the streets were safe and clean, the parks lush and trim and industry prospering.

"Those were the glory days of the Republican Party in this state," agrees state Rep. Howard Cahoon Jr. (R-Chatham). "You don't hear anyone tearing them down."

The lines are running thin'

But Herter and Saltonstall have passed on. Saltonstall's son William left the state Senate four years ago and now runs the New England Medical Center and works in the investment business. Francis Sargent, the last Republican governor, is heading the Coalition for Safe Hazardous Waste Management. Frank Hatch Jr., the party's 1978 nominee, is out of politics.

Former state and US attorney general Elliot Richardson is working for a Washington law firm; friends tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to run for statewide office this fall. Lodge is out of public life and his son George, who ran against US Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1962, is on the faculty at Harvard Business School.

Fewer than 20 persons of Yankee background now hold seats in the Legislature. "The lines are running thin," Sears will concede. So what has happened to the Yankee politician and the ethos he represented?

"We're still breeding like we used to," reports Rep. Forrester (Tim) Clark Jr. (R-Hamilton). "And probably enjoying it more."

Yet most of them seem to be satisfying their urge for public service ("a genetic, Pavlovian thing," as former US senatorial candidate Josiah Spaulding calls it) elsewhere.

"Where have they gone?" muses Sears, now the breed's most prominent statewide symbol. "They're on library and hospital boards. And there's a ring of people in town government that could make this place hum. But they wouldn't

dream of running for any office that would bring them to Beacon Hill."

Why? The demands of financial disclosure laws, says Sears. The vilification attached to political life, says Hatch. The devaluation of the legislator's role, says assistant Senate minority leader David Locke (R- Wellesley). The dwindling relevance of political parties, says Spaulding. The diminished opportunity for creativity, says Sargent. And the decline of the Yankee's traditional haven, the Republican Party.

"When you put together all the considerations," muses Richardson, "if someone is wavering about whether to do it or not, it doesn't take a whole lot to tip him against it."

The GOP doesn't hold a single statewide office and hasn't had one of its own as treasurer or secretary of state since 1949 or as auditor since 1941. Only two of the state's 12-member congressional delegation - Margaret Heckler and Silvio Conte - are Republicans.

"It's a very frustrating thing," says Clark. "If you're somebody who wants to achieve and have your influence felt and have a limited time to be in public office, the Republican Party in Massachusetts right now isn't one of the places to be."

Not numerically, anyway. Where the party held 102 of 240 House seats in 1963, they now control 31 of 160. In the Senate, where they matched the Democrats roughly head for head in the Fifties, Republicans now occupy only eight seats of 40, barely enough to force a rollcall.

" God forbid we ever lose (Senate minority leader) John Parker (R- Taunton)," says Sen. Robert Hall (R-Fitchburg). "He goes in there day after day and gets his head knocked in, losing all those votes. The public doesn't realize what a public servant he is."

In the last statewide election, Republicans contested only 91 of 200 legislative seats. Though state committee chairman Andrew Natsios is recruiting candidates actively for the fall, the party had to scramble to find convention endorsees for the lower statewide offices last month and still does not have a challenger for incumbent Atty. Gen. Francis Bellotti.

"There is no Yankee wing of the Republican Party because there is no party," says Spaulding, who came within 18,000 votes (of nearly 2 million cast) of beating Bellotti in 1974, but chose not to run for any office this time.

"There's the Reagan-Bush organization and that's it. The political process has been going through a difficult period. It's not where the real world has been. The parties are doing nothing about the issues, and the Yankee is attracted by issues. He wants to make a point."

The harassment in public life

More and more, the Yankee sees that possibility dwindling around the State House. "The creativity seems to have been squelched," muses Sargent. "I guess a lot of people just don't want to stick their necks out any more."

Not only the process, but the job has been devalued, says Locke. "We've permitted the role of legislator to become nothing but that of a glorified errand boy," he feels.

Given the low level of public esteem for the Legislature as a whole and tough disclosure laws ("It's not the reason I left, but it's an inhibiting factor about going back" says Saltonstall), a number of Yankees have decided it simply isn't worth the trouble.

"Public life is a harassment," says Clark. "Once you throw your hat in the ring, you're a free target. The Yankee has to open up more of his private life than is attractive to him. He can develop a lot of satisfaction working on volunteer organizations."

So where a public-spirited Yankee might once have begun as a town meeting moderator and progressed to state representative, House Speaker and either Congress or the governor's chair, he's more likely to be drawn now to the board of a symphony, of his university or a local hospital.

"They're still willing to give their time," says Sears. "As long as there is some result, the process is reasonable and they can see something happening."

The public-service ethic dies hard. Yet the Yankee is quick to say that he's never had a hammerlock on either the ethic ("It's a wonderful feeling," says Hatch, "but you don't have to be a Sears to get the same feeling.") or the party.

"The perception that the Republican Party consists of bluebloods and Brahmins is misleading," insists Locke, "and has been for a long time."

The Republicans remind you that they ran a Jewish candidate statewide in the Twenties and got one elected (attorney general George Fingold) in the Fifties. They elected an Italian governor in 1960, a black US senator in 1966.

"If you look back to the Fifties," says Natsios, "you'll see that the party ticket was carefully balanced ethnically. The Brahmin leadership wanted to make sure that people knew the party was open."

Indeed. Even now, the remaining Yankee politicians prefer to downplay their background as irrelevant. "We happen to live in an area where ethnicity is perceived as important," says Rep. John Loring (R-Acton). "And I don't know how important it is."

Loring is half-Irish. Sargent will tell you about his Italian grandmother. Sears says that state Rep. Andrew Card (R-Holbrook), a gubernatorial rival, has more Mayflower in him than Sears does. "Alden on my father's side, Bradford on my mother's," Card admits. "But somehow we fell into the swamp along the way."

Anyway, they say, the Yankee stereotype hasn't been the real problem. It's the lingering image of the Republican Party as the exclusive preserve of the rich. Which is why some party insiders see a Sears candidacy as symbolically regressive.

"John Sears represents the past," says former state committee chairman Gordon Nelson, who's supporting John Lakian for governor. "The old guard. The Republican Party has changed tremendously. We don't want to get rid of the Yankees, but we have to get new people into the party. We are 14 percent of the electorate. Anybody who doesn't want new people is cuckoo."

The broadening is a natural one. Even the Yankees admit that. They never intended, they say, to pass the party on into a family trust. Last month the Republicans endorsed a Syrian/French-American for US senator, an Armenian- American for governor and an Italian-American for lieutenant governor.

Plenty of room for "newer stock," as they say. Don't have to be a Yankee to be a Saltonstall. "There are Irish Yankees, Jewish Yankees, black Yankees," Sears believes.

And Bartley says he has a way to lure more Yankee Yankees back into the Legislature. "Either double the salary," he's told Sears. "Or cut it to zero.

Author: John Powers Globe Staff 
  Paper: Boston Globe
Date: September 16, 1982

The young volunteer, nibbling crackers at a reception for John W. Sears Tuesday night, looked startled when asked if she thought he would clinch the Republican nomination for governor.

"Win? Of course he'll win," she shrugged matter-of-factly. "He's had most of the good jobs in the state, and his family has had most of the rest. It's in his blood.
Exaggeration aside, Sears possesses ample political credentials, from both his own career and his family history of patrician Republican leadership. Those qualifications, he believes, appealed to Republican voters who gave him a nearly 2-1 margin over his primary rivals.

Directly descended from John Winthrop, the first Colonial governor of Massachusetts, Sears, who lives on Beacon Hill, has long hobnobbed with Lodges, Sargents and other heirs to Boston Brahmin political family fortunes.

During his own 18-year political career, Sears has served as a state legislator, been the first Republican elected to the Boston City Council in 30 years, headed the Metropolitan District and Boston Finance commissions under Republican Gov. Francis Sargent and run the state Republican party.

"To use a baseball analogy, you might call John a utility infielder for the Yankees - with a capital Y," observed one longtime State House aide who asked not to be named. "He's been able to step into any job the Republican leadership asked him to."

In interviews during his career, Sears - a 51-year-old Rhodes Scholar, holder of two Harvard degrees, and former investment banker - has often described himself as a "17th century man" who idealizes the strong "work ethic" and "sense of social order" that dominated that era.

And on Tuesday night, flushed with his overwhelming defeat of two primary contenders, Sears supporters were quick to applaud his promise of a "bright new day" in fiscally conservative, squeaky-clean state leadership and a rejuvenation of long-dormant Boston Republicanism.

But while Sears presents himself as a dignified public servant, above the "vicious" bloodletting and "arrogant" style of state Democratic leaders, he is no shrinking violet when it comes to speaking his mind.

As head of the Boston Finance Committee in the early 70s, he railed against Mayor Kevin H. White's "spendthrift" administration. While on the City Council from 1979 to 1981, he criticized his peers as trivia-obsessed "tagalongs" to White.

As leader of the state GOP in 1975, he accused his own party organization of being a "sophomoric, title-happy" bunch. And during the gubernatorial campaign this summer, he raised eyebrows with his flailing accusations that Gov. Edward J. King had "mob connections" and ran a corrupt administration.

(Later, he insisted his assertions were correct, but refused to provide specific allegations).

Sears' political fortunes began to rise quickly after 1967, when his neighborhood-pounding mayoral campaign brought him within 6800 primary votes of White. Today, he often points to that fight as proof of his mettle on the grittier battlefield of city politics.

"People might think someone like Sears enters office from a sense of

noblesse oblige, but the truth is, he enjoys the politicking," notes a legislative aide who observed Sears during his term in the State House.

Adds Josiah Spaulding, who preceded Sears as state GOP chairman and strongly endorsed him for governor: "He's a scholar and a Yankee, but he's a lot tougher than I am."

Others, though, have criticized Sears for displaying a lofty, impractical approach to issues, a brusque impatience with less intellectual colleagues, and a barely masked presumption that he is the naturally superior candidate for whatever office he has sought.

Robert Kavin, an aide to Democratic City Council member Christopher Iannella, says Sears sometimes "can't see the trees for the forest. In City Council debates about a police officer's disability pension, he'd go off on a whole tangent about the pension issue and ignore the immediate one."

He also criticized a "certain righteousness" in Sears' attitudes toward the political system. For instance, Sears has long lambasted the "public cancer" of patronage. But, Kavin remarks waggishly, "no cousin of his would accept a job on the public payroll anyway."

Sears' supporters, on the other hand, applaud his conceptual approach to such issues as inadequate public education, environmental hazards and fiscal waste. And they insist that, despite his patrician roots, Sears has the common touch.

"It's a shame he's been tagged with this Brahmin thing, because I've never met a more democratic man in my life," asserts Julie Schniewind, a Chestnut Hill consultant who has worked for numerous Sears campaigns.

Sears himself seems well aware of the paradoxes in his political personality, and he is known for smoothing them over with disarming humor. Once, he referred to his 6-foot-4 frame as a "stately carcass."

And recently, when asked by a reporter on the campaign trail to name his favorite poet, he quickly replied: "Homer. But please don't say that. It simply wouldn't do to let the voters know I read someone who wrote in Attic Greek."

Author: Pamela Constable Globe Staff 
Articles too lengthy to fit on the Irish Elk blog.

07/13/2003 - 07/20/2003 / 08/24/2003 - 08/31/2003 / 10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003 / 10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003 / 11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003 / 01/25/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004 / 05/23/2004 - 05/30/2004 / 05/30/2004 - 06/06/2004 / 08/15/2004 - 08/22/2004 / 09/05/2004 - 09/12/2004 / 09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004 / 11/14/2004 - 11/21/2004 / 01/16/2005 - 01/23/2005 / 01/30/2005 - 02/06/2005 / 10/02/2005 - 10/09/2005 / 11/05/2006 - 11/12/2006 /

Powered by Blogger