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MassFiscal Alliance & Other Groups Exploring Legal Challenge To $15,000 Union Donation Limit

massfiscalbannerLoopholes permits unions huge unfair advantage over individuals

Boston, MA: good-government policies, and the Goldwater Institute, a public policy advocacy and research organization, announced today that they are further studying the next steps toward filing a lawsuit to challenge the legality of the Massachusetts campaign finance rule that allows unions to donate $15,000 in a given year to a single candidate. The carve-out only allows unions an enormous “leg up” over individuals, who are currently limited to $500 per candidate per year, and corporations, which are forbidden from making any donations at all. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Massachusetts is the only state where unions are able to donate more than both corporations and individuals.

“There is no equality in the law when elected officials and candidates are allowed to accept up to $15,000 only from unions, while individuals can only contribute up to $500,” stated Paul Craney, the group’s executive director. “The legislature failed to fix the law and now we are exploring if another branch of government is the remedy to the legislature’s failure to act.”

The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently defeated an amendment to close the loophole on a 29-120 vote. The amendment, filed by Rep. Ryan Fattman of Webster, would have limited union donations to $1,000 per candidate or committee each year, the amount that individuals would be permitted to donate under campaign finance legislation currently pending on Beacon Hill. Despite bi-partisan support in the senate, a similar effort was defeated on Wednesday by a vote of 10-28. To locate the roll call votes, please visit www.MassFiscalScorecard.org. To give just one example of the problem’s scope, unions were able to give over $500,000 more than they otherwise would have to Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh during his 2013 campaign.

According to a July 2nd column by Scot Lehigh, the Attorney General said, “She is open to reviewing donation limits for individuals and organized labor with the goal of leveling the playing field so that working families can compete with super PACs funded by corporations and special interests.” However, after yesterday’s defeat in the Senate, the Attorney General only released this statement on Twitter, “Good to see the Senate passed a bill to require Super PACs to reveal their big money donors, so we know who’s behind the mysterious groups.” The Attorney General, on several occasions now, has not stated whether she supports closing the campaign finance loophole or if she would defend the rule if challenged in court.

“This rule only benefits unions and candidates seeking their support. At this point, the Attorney General and the candidates seeking to replace her should publicly state if they would defend this rule if challenged in the courts or side with those who favor its repeal because they seek fairness in the law,” Craney concluded.

On June 5th, Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance urged the Attorney General candidates to sign the “People’s Fairness Pledge” that would limit their campaign donations from unions to the individual limit. Neither of the two Democratic candidates committed to accepting the pledge.

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan is president and publisher of The Valley Patriot Newspaper in North Andover Massachusetts, a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass. Citizens Alliance, a 1990 Police Survivor and hosts the Paying Attention! Radio Program on 980WCAP in Lowell, Massachusetts. You can email your comments to valleypatriot@aol.com.

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