BOSTON (AP) - Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Daniel Winslow defended on Tuesday his past donations to Democratic candidates, including a $500 donation for Attorney General Martha Coakley in 2008.
Winslow said he never gave money to a Democrat if there was a Republican in the race.
Coakley was not up for re-election in 2008, although she did have a Republican opponent in 2006 and would go on to be a candidate in the 2010 special U.S. Senate election that propelled Republican Scott Brown into Congress. Coakley also had a Republican opponent in her 2010 re-election campaign.
Winslow said Tuesday he donated to Coakley's state account and not the federal account she used for the U.S. Senate run.
"I donated to Martha Coakley in 2008 when she was uncontested," said Winslow, a Norfolk state representative, and explained the donations saying, "I had a lot of business. It was basically relationships, friends of friends and things like that."
A review of state campaign finance reports from 2003 to 2011 by the Associated Press found that Winslow donated $2,300 to Democratic candidates, although his last donation to Democrats appeared to be in 2008.
Coakley, former Senate President Robert Travaglini, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz were among the Democratic candidates Winslow donated to during that time period.
The other Republicans in this year's special Senate race have also donated to Democratic candidates, but not as many as Winslow.
Cohasset private equity investor Gabriel Gomez made a $230 donation to Obama in 2007 and a $1,000 donation to Alan Khazei in 2009 when Khazei was a candidate in the Democratic primary in the 2010 special U.S. Senate race that Brown ultimately won.
Former Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, another Republican candidate in the special Senate election, made a $100 donation to a Democrat candidate in a three-way primary for a Massachusetts House seat. There was also a Republican in the race.
Winslow said he was the only Republican in the race who's never donated to a Democrat if there was a Republican also running at the time of the donation.
Winslow has faulted Gomez for sending a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick in January stating his support of Democratic President Barack Obama and saying he backed Obama's positions on gun control and immigration.
At the time, Gomez was trying to persuade Patrick to appoint him on an interim basis to the Senate seat left vacant by the resignation of John Kerry.
In the letter Gomez said "immigration reform and gun control" would likely be the top issues during the interim appointment.
"I support the positions that President Obama has taken on these issues, and you can be assured that I will keep my word and work on these issues as I have promised," said in the letter.
Gomez now says he opposes reinstatement of an assault weapons ban, which Obama has pushed.
"I think it's important in public life ... to have integrity and to speak the truth to the voters at all times whether it helps you or hurts you," Winslow said. "Mr. Gomez' letter speaks for itself."
The Gomez campaign declined to make Gomez available to comment Tuesday, but an aide said he will "leave the personal attacks to the career politicians."
Two Democrats are also running, Congressmen Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch.
The primaries are April 30. The special election is June 25.