Editorial: No Taxpayer Funded Campaigns

NOVEMBER 2002
- "Do you support taxpayer money being used to fund political campaigns
for public office in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?"

This
question will be asked of Massachusetts voters in a non-binding
referendum this coming November. For the past two years, the issue of
using public funds (taxpayer money) to pay for political campaigns has
been hotly contested across the Commonwealth.

At
issue is a provision contained within the "Clean Elections" law, passed
by referendum in 2000, that provides taxpayer money to political
candidates to pay for their campaigns. During this election cycle,
taxpayers will have paid over $9 million to fund political campaigns,
including the $3.88 million spent by unsuccessful gubernatorial
candidate Warren Tolman.

Supporters
of the "Clean Elections" law claim its purpose is to grant an equal
footing to all qualified seekers of elective office. In order to
qualify, a candidate must receive a certain number of campaign
contributions (under $100) from private citizens.

Once
the threshold number of donations is reached, the candidate then
qualifies for taxpayer funds to match whatever the other privately
funded candidates are spending on their own campaigns. There is no
limit to how much a qualified candidate may receive in taxpayer monies.

As
your advocates on Beacon Hill, we feel it is our responsibility to
expose this law for the con game that it has become. It is a bad law
with dangerous implications.

First,
the use of the phrase "Clean Elections" is deceptive by design. When
voters approved this measure two years ago, they believed that they
were voting for a measure that would end negative campaigning and
"clean" up the system. Advocates at the time did not emphasize the use
of taxpayers' money, which is the cornerstone of this law.

We
are all for "Clean Elections", that is campaigns absent dirty tricks,
grandstanding, and the personal attacks that have become all too common
in modern political races. When our members voted on this issue, most
were unaware that tax money was the linchpin.

It
is curious that good government advocates would turn to deceptive
tactics in order to advance their agenda. The real agenda of these
self-titled "reformists" is to achieve political power. Many of those
advocating for this change are members of organizations operating on
the political fringe, who cannot develop the public support needed to
advance their cause.

Members
should also take offense to the inference that the efforts and funds
expended by this Association's political action fund, on behalf of
public retirees, are not clean. Advocates of taxpayer funded campaigns
see our members as a "special interest group", with undue influence on
Beacon Hill.

Over the past 34 years,
this Association has built a strong membership through steady
grassroots efforts. Together we have given retirees a voice on Beacon
Hill that is second to none.

Tags: