Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) apparently mischaracterized his personal background in the presidential campaign announcement video he released on Thursday, adding to a rocky campaign launch for a candidate selling himself as a competent alternative to the current roster of hopefuls.
“I was the first in my family to go to college and law school,” he says in the two-minute spot.
Patrick’s father, celebrated jazz musician Laurdine Kenneth “Pat” Patrick, attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, as well as Wilson Junior College, according to Grove Music Online, an encyclopedia created by Oxford University Press.
MSNBC producer Andrew Joyce was the first to point out the discrepancy on Twitter. HuffPost checked the source of the information about Patrick’s father and followed up with Patrick’s campaign, which told HuffPost on Friday that it was working on verifying the elder Patrick’s educational history.
Pat Patrick, who traveled the country playing music, was not a major presence in his son’s life after separating from Deval’s mother when Deval was 4 years old. The two men reconnected after Deval got married in the 1980s.
Deval Patrick’s folksy campaign video emphasized his modest childhood growing up on Chicago’s South Side. Some of those years were spent on welfare, Patrick noted. That much appears to be true.
But Patrick’s bid reflects the concerns of wealthy donors that their preferred presidential candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden, are incapable of maintaining the upper hand in a Democratic presidential primary against two candidates ― Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) ― who have made taking on the superrich a key element of their bids. Patrick’s Reason to Believe PAC, which he is using to seed his presidential bid, raised $620,000 from just six donors, including Massachusetts-based private equity titans Paul and Dan Fireman, according to an Open Secrets analysis of official campaign finance data.
Democratic megadonors might see a kindred spirit in Patrick, given his professional background. Before he was elected governor, Patrick had a lucrative career in corporate law, including stints as general counsel of Texaco and Coca-Cola, as well as working for ACC Capital Holdings, the parent company of Ameriquest, one of the largest subprime mortgage lenders in the years before the financial crash.
After his second term as governor, Patrick joined Bain Capital, the private equity firm that former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney co-founded in 1984. During the 2012 campaign, former President Barack Obama consistently attacked Romney’s work at Bain.
“Their priority is to maximize profits,” Obama said at the time, “and that’s not always going to be good for businesses or communities or workers.”
“This is not a distraction,” Obama also said when pressed about this line of attack. “This is what this campaign is going to be about.”
Patrick was co-chair of the Obama-Biden campaign in 2012 and a frequent Obama surrogate.
Until Thursday, the Bain website still listed Patrick as a managing director, touting among other things, his previous work at Texaco, one of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies.
Asked by the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel how he would differentiate his work at Bain from Romney’s, Patrick replied: “When I was co-chair of the Obama-Biden campaign in 2012, and there were all these attacks on Bain Capital on account of Mitt Romney, you know, I was asked about that. I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now.”
“Some transactions in private equity are going to go sideways,” he continued, “with or without, by the way, private equity.”
This story has been updated to include a response from Deval Patrick’s campaign and details of Patrick’s relationship with his father growing up.