Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Wolf returns donations from run for governor

About a month after halting his run for governor, state Sen. Daniel Wolf returned nearly $150,000 in donations to his short-lived campaign.

In a letter accompanying the checks, the Cape Air founder said he was reimbursing supporters to fulfill a campaign promise: "If I had to stop the race, I would return funds donated to the effort."

About $75,000 — or roughly half of his fundraising during the gubernatorial campaign — had been deposited as of Nov. 30, according to Wolf's most recent campaign finance report. Wolf, 56, who provided a copy of the letter to the Times, wrote that any checks that are not cashed or deposited within 60 days would be assumed to be contributions to his next state Senate run.

When asked whether uncashed checks would give him a head start on his planned run for re-election next year, Wolf said the gubernatorial campaign "did not end up being a net positive for me."

"There were expenditures while we were still in the race and expenditures while we were unwinding it," said Wolf, a Harwich Democrat.

The letters were sent between Nov. 18 and 20 — and most did not have to travel far.

In the brief time he was raising money before suspending his run, Wolf drew the majority of his donations from the Cape and Islands, where the campaign had planned to focus much of its attention in the busy summer months.

"Our strategy was to start the gubernatorial campaign in the district and draw from the strength of my time in the district and relationships there," Wolf said in an interview, adding that many contributors had supported past Senate races and wanted to support the next one.

Wolf suspended his gubernatorial campaign in August after the State Ethics Commission informed him that Cape Air's dealings with the Massachusetts Port Authority left him with a prohibited interest in a state contract. The Cape Air founder argued that the Massport contracts allowing the airline to fly in and out of Logan International Airport in Boston were boilerplate agreements that left no room for influence.

In October, as the commission considered adopting an exemption to the conflict-of-interest law, Wolf permanently grounded the campaign after determining that he would not be able to return to the race in time to stand a legitimate chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

"So with regret — and I'll confess some frustration — a refund of your contribution is enclosed," he wrote to supporters.

The commission later decided to pursue an exemption that, under certain conditions, would allow public employees to have a financial stake in state contracts reached before their time in office.