Old friends and supporters host tribute dinner and fundraiser for disgraced former House speaker
The rehabilitation of Thomas Finneran continues tonight with a sold-out tribute dinner and fundraiser at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel that is expected to draw dignitaries from the state’s political, civic and business circles.
More than 500 people have contributed anywhere from $250 to $10,000 to rub elbows with the disgraced former House speaker and raise more than a quarter-million dollars for a newly created charity in Finneran’s name, organizers say.
“It’s an amazing outpouring of support that reflects his qualities and the dedication to the district he represented and to Greater Boston,” said Joseph Baerlein, the high-powered Boston public relations executive and spokesman for the 6 p.m. event.
Veteran Beacon Hill lobbyist and longtime friend Robert White organized the Finneran extravaganza. Organizers say attendees will include House Speaker Sal DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray, former Senate President Robert Travaglini, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and former governors William Weld, Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift.
But not everyone from the state’s political establishment will participate.
Organizers had earlier dropped the names of Gov. Deval Patrick and U.S. senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry as attendees, but Patrick instead will attend a Democratic Governor’s Association event in New York, while Kennedy and Kerry will remain in Washington for a Senate session, according to their respective offices.
The state Democratic Party also will keep its distance by remaining uninvolved in the event, party chairman John Walsh said.
Blue Cross Blue Shield executive Peter Meade will serve as emcee. Proceeds will benefit Thomas Finneran Charities, a non-profit corporation that will support civic and charitable organizations in Greater Boston, Baerlein said.
Finneran, 57, a convicted felon who admitted to lying under oath in federal court over a gerrymandering lawsuit, served a quarter-century in the House as a Democratic state representative from Mattapan. Finneran, who did not return a call seeking comment, is now a morning radio talk show host.
Tom Benner of The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.) may be reached at email@example.com.