Donate To A Massachusetts Politician? You May Have Bought Him A Coffee At Starbucks Or Dunkin’ Donuts

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Congressional Democrats are on a real winning streak in Massachusetts.

They have not lost a U.S. House race in the state since 1994. The last time they lost a non-special election in a U.S. Senate race was 1972, when liberal Republican Senator Ed Brooke won a second term.

Still, members of Congress, who have a base salary of $174,000 per year, raise money to win elections. Where does that money go? Sometimes bumper stickers, lawn signs, TV ads, staff salaries, and the like. But other times, the money they receive might just be paying for their morning coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts.

One of the biggest free-coffee-drinkers in the Massachusetts Congressional delegation is U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston). His campaign expense reports show that between December 2015 and October 2020, his campaign spent $1,234.46 at Starbucks on 175 transactions, an average of $7.05 per transaction, according to the Federal Elections Commission. Every single one is under the label “meetings” or “meetings expense.” Lynch spent no money at Dunkin’ Donuts. The company was founded in Quincy, Massachusetts which is a part of his district. Its headquarters are in Canton, Massachusetts, which is also part of his district, as the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office confirms.

Another member of Congress who represents Boston is a fan of Starbucks, as well:  U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Dorchester). From August 2018 to March 2020, Pressley’s campaign spent $208.19 there in 11 transactions, averaging $18.92 apiece. The largest one came on August 9, 2018, when the campaign spent $72.32. Meanwhile, in February 2020, the campaign had a Starbucks expense of $2.89 in one transaction and $3.21 in another, as Federal Election Commission reports show.

Unlike Lynch, however, Pressley also patronizes Dunkin’ Donuts. Between 2018 and 2020, her campaign spent $628.01 there between seven transactions, an average of $89.72 per transaction. Most of that came in a reported $460 expense there on September 25, 2018, according to Federal Election Commission records.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge), while running for president, ran up $462.52 in campaign expenses at Starbucks over 24 transactions. They ranged from $3.52 in one April 2020 transaction to $50 at one in December, but the average transaction was $19.27, as Federal Election Commission reports show. Warren Democrats, the campaign account for Warren’s U.S. Senate races, has not spent any money at Starbucks.

As for Dunkin’ Donuts, the expense report is much higher for Warren. Among 83 transactions there from 2012 to 2020, her campaign accounts spent $10,730.99 there, an average of $129.29 per transaction, as the Federal Election Commission reports.

Speaking of running for president, U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (D-Salem) had a handful of campaign expenses at Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Between August 2018 and August 2019, Moulton spent $136.07 in campaign funds at Starbucks, with $116.33 of that coming between May 2019 and August 2019 under the Seth Moulton For America campaign account, the account for his short-lived presidential campaign, according to Federal Election Commission campaign finance data. The range for those transactions was $3.79 in May 2019 to $45.59 in August 2019. The average cost of the eight transactions was $17.01. Additionally, Moulton’s campaign accounts spent $281.14 between 16 transactions at Dunkin’ Donuts from 2014 to 2019, an average of $17.57 apiece, according to the Federal Election Commission.

The press spokesmen for Lynch, Pressley, Moulton, and Warren could not be reached for comment on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday this past week.