Whatever the issue, Congressman William R. Keating is sure to disappoint. The most conservative of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, Keating is a product of Democratic complacency and Boston-centric politics which frequently neglects the rest of the state. Let’s take a close look at one of Massachusetts’ worst Democrats. Can’t we do better?
Democracy and Transparency
- Despite the tremendous amount of money now being spent on elections at all levels and ballot questions from 2012 and 2014 showing over 70% of Massachusetts voters supporting a Constitutional amendment to restrict rights to natural persons and to take money out of elections, Keating was not a co-sponsor of H.J.Res.48, which would address “Citizens United.”
- Other members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation — JIm McGovern and even Seth Moulton — co-signed Representatives Bill Pascrell and Debbie Dingell’s letter urging the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to ensure that the NAFTA renegotiation process remains open and transparent. Bill Keating did not.
- One hundred and sixteen Democrats co-sponsored H.R.676, John Conyers’ Medicare for All Act. Keating was not one of them.
- Keating has not endorsed any other public healthcare option.
- Keating did not support Worker Rights: H.R.15 – Raise the Wage Act.
The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act of 2017, H.R.771, defends a woman’s right to choose. Keating did not support this.[editor’s correction: Keating was in fact an original co-sponsor.]
- DNC chair Tom Perez and DCCC chair Ray Lujan, as well as some in the New Democrat Coalition, of which Keating and Seth Moulton are members, argue for “flexibility” on abortion and against abortion as a litmus test. But shouldn’t a woman’s most personal right to control her own body be a non-negotiable plank for Democrats?
- Twenty-seven Democrats co-sponsored H.R.1880, the College for All Act. Keating was not one of them.
- The Inclusive Prosperity Act, H.R. 1144, a Wall Street Speculation fee, is a fraction of a percent tax on stocks, bonds, and financial derivatives that can be used to fund public university tuition and would be offset by tax credits. Keating did not support this.
- Keating voted YEA with Blue Dog Democrats on H.R. 3192, a Republican bill which reduces transparency for mortgage lending institutions. This bill was a hit with the American Bankers Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Home Builders lobby, but it prohibited consumers from suing mortgage lenders who violated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau disclosure requirements under the Truth in Lending Act. Keating doesn’t believe in amnesty for immigrants. Why an amnesty for mortgage lenders?
- Keating also voted YEA with conservative Democrats on H.R. 1737, a Republican bill which neutered the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s oversight of Indirect Auto Lending and Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Keating and a minority of House Democrats broke with his own party to vote for Republican sponsored H.R.1737, the Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance Act. This bill prohibited consumers — particularly minorities — from suing auto lenders who violated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules against discrimination in lending. The bill takes the unusual step of preventing disclosures of violations with Freedom of Information Act requests. The NAACP, the Urban League, La Raza, the Consumers Union, and many others, were opposed.
- Keating is a hard-liner on immigration. From “On the Issues”: “Bill Keating opposes amnesty. As a District Attorney, Bill Keating enforces our laws and believes that everyone must obey them. His office has prosecuted thousands of criminal cases that resulted in defendants being detained for immigration and deportation action. Bill believes that we must secure our borders, and wants to punish and stop corporations that hire workers here illegally. Bill does not support giving people who are here illegally access to state and federal benefits.”
- Keating and five other Democrats voted for H.R. 3009, the “Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act,” a Republican bill to withhold funding for states and municipalities with “sanctuary” policies.
- Keating and Blue Dog Democrats voted for H.R. 4038, the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015.” The Republican bill adds additional obstacles to the already-onerous screening and vetting of Syrian refugees.
- Keating voted YEA on H.R. 3004, “Kate’s Law,” a Republican bill which expands indefinite detention of migrants who repeatedly cross the border. The bill will do nothing to prevent future actions by desperate people but it will increase the number of private prisons in the United States.
- During the January Shutdown, only Keating and Stephen Lynch voted for a stopgap spending bill that kept the military happy but threw Dreamers under the bus. The other seven Massachusetts congressman and both U.S. senators voted against it.
- Keating is no friend of the Fourth Amendment and gets only middling ratings: “Keating supported ‘cybersecurity’ legislation, and opposed defunding the government’s Section 702 surveillance programs (PRISM and Upstream); however, he supports banning backdoor searches on US persons.
- Keating voted for the USA FREEDOM Act, which reformed the small amount of government surveillance that occurs under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, and continued to support it even after its reforms were watered down to the point where there was much debate about whether it would do more harm than good to pass it.”
- Keating refused to let PATRIOT Act extensions expire under “sunset” provisions, including this and this one.
- Voted for extending FISA in 2018 – https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h16
- The Justice is Not for Sale Act, H.R.3227, places restrictions on private prisons. At a time Republicans are trying to re-institute discredited justice and prison practices, and pushing privatization, including prisons, schools, and even the war in Afghanistan, Keating did not support this.
- The Automatic Voter Registration Act, H.R. 2840, would make voter registration easier and automatic. Keating did not support this.
Militarism and Foreign Policy
- Keating voted NAY on a resolution to bar President Obama from using an AUMF to invade Libya. The resolution would have required Congress to declare war — per the U.S. Constitution. Keating did, however, vote YEA on ending the war in Afghanistan.
- Keating was reluctant to support Obama’s and Kerry’s Iran deal and has courted the MEK, an exile group which until 2012 was designated a terrorist organization seeking to overthrow and replace the Iranian government with its own “government-in-exile.” Thanks to Republican and Democratic hawks the designation was lifted.
- Keating is pro-Likud. He has fought international efforts to support a Two State Solution, advocated moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, opposed the use of the word “Palestine” and threatened to cut off U.S. contributions to the U.N. and funding for U.N. refugee efforts because of the international body’s criticism of Israel’s land theft and occupation.
- Keating, along with Democratic hawks, sent a letter to Rex Tillerson affirming their support for Trump’s policies on NATO and for Tillerson’s office. Keating shares Republicans’ view that NATO needs to be stronger to oppose Russia.
- Keating cheered Donald Trump’s deployment of tomahawk missiles, which were in violation of both AUMF statements and the U.S. Constitution.
Aside from the fact that the Democratic Party didn’t offer primary voters alternatives in 2014 or 2016, Keating is not a particularly strong candidate. Even relatively unknown challengers have done reasonably well against him in both primaries and general elections:
- 2010 Democratic Primary – Robert O’Leary got 48.7% of the vote
- 2010 General Election – Jeffrey Perry (R) got 42.4% of the vote
- 2012 Democratic Primary – Sam Sutter got 40.8% of the vote
- 2012 General Election – Christopher Sheldon (R) got 32.2% of the vote
- 2014 Democratic Primary – unopposed
- 2014 General Election – John Chapman (R) got 43.5% of the vote
- 2016 Democratic Primary – unopposed
- 2016 General Election – Mark Alliegro (R) got 38% of the vote
The Bigger Problem
Here in Massachusetts democracy has been in trouble for some time. Our state ranks last in competitiveness in political races. In the 2016 Democratic Primary there was not one challenger in all nine U.S. Congressional districts. At the state level half the candidates for the Governor’s Council ran unchallenged. In County Sheriff Democratic primary elections, six out of fourteen ran unopposed and two slots were never filled, including Bristol County where Joe-Arpaio-wannabe, Republican Tom Hodgson, won by default because of Democratic complacency. In almost half the state legislature primaries and in 29 out of 42 state senate races there was no challenger.
All three counties in our forgotten corner of the state — Bristol, Plymouth, and Barnstable — have anti-immigrant sheriffs who signed 287(g) agreements with the Trump administration. This should be a wake-up call to Democratic town and city committees — people, your counties are in danger of becoming Republican.
Researcher John Cass did a little digging and discovered that, while Rome burns, only 41% of Democratic Town Committees were spending any money. If you’re not spending anything on postage, flyers or web hosting, it’s a good sign that you’re not doing much. And if you’re not doing much, your town committee deserves the adjective “defunct.”
This is how we end up with Bill Keatings.