Corporations Helped Halt Nuclear Free Cambridge

News Analysis

A recently filed expenditure report reveals that a significant portion of the contributions to a citizens' group which successfully organized against the Nuclear Free Cambridge referendum came from out-of-state corporate interests.

Citizens Against Research Bans (CARB) received half of its $540,000 in funding from donors based outside Massachusetts, including 98 percent of its contributions from companies such as the General Dynamics Corporation, Honeywell and Rockwell International, according to a campaign finance report filed with the city clerk last Friday.

Had the proposal passed, it would have made ongoing research and manufacturing of nuclear weapons and their components illegal within Cambridge, and set a precedent for similar legislation being considered in four other cities. The controversial issue sparked national attention, and the possible ramifications made businesses outside of the Cambridge are especially alert.

Business that donated to CARB did so to protect their interests, spokesmen said. "We saw it as an expense--we wanted to do it in the business interest, not the philanthropic or public interest," said Robert Thill, a spokesman for American Telephone and Telegraph Co. (AT & T) which donated $5,000 to CARB.

A representative of Litton Guidance and Control Systems--a California firm which designs navigation systems for commercial and military aircraft and cruise missiles--said that the company was concerned about its associates in the Cambridge area, and a nearby city council considering similar action.

"We deal with companies in that area [Cambridge] such as Raytheon and [Charles Stark] Draper Laboratories," said Richard G. Doom, of Litton's strategic systems division.

CARB spent 20 times more money in November's election than Mobilization for Survival, the organization sponsoring the antinuclear measure. Only three percent of the estimated $35,000 in proponents' contributions exceeded $30.

Members of Mobilization for Survival said they felt that big business dollars had swayed the voters. "It shows they will do anything they can to prevent people from having a say in the future of nuclear weapons in this country," Susan Levine, a spokeswoman for the anti-nuclear group said.

CARB chairman Ernest May, Warren Professor of American History, said, however, that the organization did not misuse its funds. "There are improper uses of money in politics, but we didn't make improper use of a penny of it--we didn't buy votes and we didn't lie," he said yesterday.

New Record

Mobilization for Survival has called CARB's per-vote election expenditure--$17.50 for each of the 29,000 who voted--the largest ever exceeding the old record set by John J. Rockefeller IV in his 1980 West Virginia gubernatorial campaign.