Today, campaign finance bills are on the agenda at the Statehouse. Two separate ideas, one bad and one praiseworthy, regarding restricting free speech have caught our attention.
An Act Relative to Truth in Advertising in Campaigns, filed by State Rep. Colleen Garry (D-Dracut), is a bold-faced and shameless attempt to silence opposition to incumbent legislators. Lawmakers who voted in favor of January's outrageous pay grab and then voted to override the Governor's veto of that bill, are feeling the heat. They're tired of defending their indefensible conduct. Garry's proposal would silence the critics. It's a tactic used by dictators throughout time.
Garry’s bill is so radical, many Constitutional scholars have already publicly criticized it. If it passes, they'll be in violation.
Republican Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Webster) and Democratic Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) have separately filed similar bills which would close the union loophole in Massachusetts campaign finance regulations.
The loophole is the most lopsided campaign finance law in the country. The state allows individuals to give up to $1,000 per candidate, while employers cannot donate at all, but unions can donate up to $15,000.
Companies owned by MassFiscal board members have filed a lawsuit to right this imbalance, but a law such as the ones proposed by Fattman and Lewis would right the wrong now, saving taxpayers needless legal expenses.
Last week, MassFiscal filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) against Paul Feeney, a union boss running in an Oct. 17 special election for state senate. According to Feeney’s last OCPF report, the campaign has already received two union donations of $5,000 each.
OCPF could, on its own, close the loophole and thus prevent another tainted election. That action would also level the playing field and save taxpayer money. We hope OCPF will act in the interest of the taxpayers and those that want to see more good government.