UMass Boston Professor to Receive Public Service Award for ‘Dark Money’ Research

Colleen Locke | October 13, 2017
UMass Boston Professor to Receive Public Service Award for ‘Dark Money’ Research

Maurice Cunningham to Be Honored by MASC

The Massachusetts Association of School Committees will present Associate Professor of Political Science Maurice Cunningham with its 2017 Distinguished Public Service Award at the group’s annual convention next month.

Cunningham has done extensive research on the amount of unattributed, or “dark money” spent on Massachusetts political campaigns, such as the 2016 ballot question to lift the cap on charter schools. He identified the sources of more than $20 million aggregated from anonymous donors to the New York-based Families for Excellent Schools, which then donated to the Great Schools Ballot Committee and reported the findings on his MassPoliticsProfs blog. Cunningham has become a national expert on dark money, and has been quoted by outlets such as the Washington Post.

“I'm very honored to have been selected by MASC for its 2017 Distinguished Public Service Award. My research is focused on a direct threat to our democratic community: huge infusions of untraceable dark money into our elections. I'm proud to play a role in exposing that danger to my fellow citizens," Cunningham said.

Last month the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance issued the largest fine in its history, $426,466, against Families for Excellent Schools.

“None of this would have happened had Dr. Cunningham not identified and pointed everyone to the source and flow of dark money and continued to expand public knowledge with his ongoing work,” said MASC President Patrick Murphy. “He pursued the matter not as an issue related to charter schools, but as an issue of integrity in government. Now, our colleagues in other states are looking into the same dark money contributions in their states.”

About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve more than 16,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit

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