Markey getting boost from ex-UMass official accused of moonlighting

SE Mass
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey_463157

DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — A former University of Massachusetts Dartmouth leader who was later accused of moonlighting for a company seeking to compete with the school is co-hosting a big-money fundraiser for Democratic U.S. Sen. Ed Markey this week.

An invitation obtained by WPRI 12 shows Gerry Kavanaugh — who was UMass Darmouth’s senior vice chancellor and briefly its acting chancellor between 2014 and 2017 — is on the host committee for a reception Thursday evening in Boston that will feature Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as a special guest.

A small reception for Markey contributors who give or raise as much as $11,200 will be held at 6 p.m., followed by a bigger reception for those who give $100 to $1,000 starting at 6:30 p.m. Businessmen Rob Hale and John Fish are the event’s headline chairs. The invitation does not list the location.

Kavanaugh came under fire last year when The Boston Globe revealed he never disclosed to UMass that while working there he was also receiving $5,000 a month as a consultant for a North Carolina company that was aiming “to draw students to a wholly different college campus that would compete with the University of Massachusetts for students from the region.”

Asked about the revelation, Markey stood by Kavanaugh.

“Gerry Kavanaugh has dedicated his career in public service to improving the lives and futures of Massachusetts families and communities,” Markey spokesperson Liz Vlock told WPRI 12. “The Markey campaign is proud to have his support.”

Vlock did not respond to questions about whether Markey had spoken to Kavanaugh about his role with the North Carolina company or whether the senator believes the activity was appropriate in light of Kavanaugh’s post at UMass, which paid him over $200,000 annually.

Markey, who has been in Congress since the 1970s, is battling to hold onto the Senate seat he won in 2013 in the face of a serious primary challenge from Congressman Joe Kennedy III. Labor lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan is also running in the primary.

Kavanaugh, a New Bedford native and veteran of Massachusetts politics, was the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy’s chief of staff from 1993 and 2001. (Joe Kennedy III’s grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy, was Ted Kennedy’s brother.) Kavanaugh flirted with a run for U.S. Senate against Republican Scott Brown in 2011 but didn’t enter the race, which was eventually won by Elizabeth Warren.

Ted Nesi ( is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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