BOSTON – State Representative Diana Dizoglio (D) Methuen, got a hearing on her Campaign finance bill last week and is fighting hard to hold accountable those elected officials and candidates for office who refuse to follow file their campaign finance reports.
DiZoglio’s bill, House Bill 573, was addressed last Wednesday at a public hearing of the Joint Committee on Election Laws.
Under current law, a candidate for public office who fails to file a campaign finance report will not appear on a state primary or election ballot.
If passed, DiZoglio’s legislation, An Act Relative to Municipal Election Ballots, would extend the present campaign finance reporting laws to municipal candidates and elections when filing with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
DiZoglio delivered her maiden speech on this issue and requested an early hearing to address any potential problems with the legislation and have it reach the House floor for a vote as soon as possible.
“It is critical to have the utmost transparency when it comes to campaign finance regulations over candidates for public office,” said DiZoglio. “Yet, to date, candidates at the municipal level have been exempt from certain laws that penalize state candidates for failing to appropriately file campaign finance reports. This legislation would establish a more level playing field and promote accountability for those who run for municipal office.”
Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said she agrees with DiZoglio saying that it is “critical” to close this loophole.
Under the current law elected officials like Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua can continue to run for and achieve public office while in violation of the Campaign Finance Laws. Lantigua went nearly four years without disclosing his donors and campaign expenses incurring menial fines.
“Timely campaign finance disclosure gives voters critical information about which interests are supporting which candidates and also gives enforcement agencies the ability to do their job,” said Wilmot.
“Without it, voters are left in the dark and there is no way of enforcing critical campaign finance such as those prohibiting personal use of campaign funds. We hope the legislature will act quickly so that the law is in place prior to November’s municipal elections.”