| Considerable news coverage was granted last week (2/2/12) in MetroWest to liberal activists' attempt to convince Congress to change the campaign finance laws relative to the Citizens United decision and the Supreme Court. Like proponents, I also do not support Super-PACs, nor do I believe corporate influence with fundraising or campaign advertising is good for our political system.
I salute Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, for example, trying to remove some of these outside influences from their race.
But, their is another side to the campaign finance reform coin that State House liberals, including Jaime Eldridge, fail to mention: How can one rail against corporate corruption and influence in politics, only to remain silent while many candidates benefit from millions of dollars in union contributions and expenditures?
It is the same quid pro quo: campaign cash that originates, not from a lobbyist per se, but from compulsory union dues that miraculously find their way to candidates willing to toe the line.
If we as a commonwealth want to limit the impact of corporate money in politics, we must also be as equally zealous in limiting the impact of public-sector union money. This glaring omission was left out of Mr. Eldridge's "Act to Restore Public Confidence in Government." And, with that omission, the Senate bill(s) are hopelessly incomplete. Influence peddling is a bipartisan problem and must be solved as one.
In 2010, the Service Employees International Union steered $1.7 million toward Martha Coakley's failed campaign against Scott Brown. Later that year, according to the Office of Campaign & Political Finance, Bay State Future, a group funded by the Democratic Governors Association, SEIU and the Massachusetts Teachers Association, spent $3,157,301 on ads identifying Charlie Baker. In the same election, the MTA also spent $2.75 million to support Gov. Deval Patrick.
I hope Eldridge's bills can be amended to curtail union money in addition to limiting lobbyists who solicit corporations with contracts before the state. Both practices are equally compromising, and feed into the Beacon Hill culture that is on display every time a lawmaker shows zero independence with public policy.
In the meantime, live by your own reforms, Mr. Eldridge, and pledge to no longer accept public union contributions or expenditures as well. Lead by example, and build the bipartisan coalition we need if you want to see your campaign finance reform bill pass and become law.
2012 (R) Candidate for State Senate
Middlesex & Worcester District
Follow on Twitter @DeanCav