To kick off the last full calendar week before Fourth of July, when many people start going on summer vacations and tune out from politics a bit, I thought now would be a good time to re-visit some notable moments from Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s last eleven months that paint quite a picture of the longtime incumbent. It’s lengthy, but I hope you find it worth reading through to the end (and sharing with primary voters).
August 1, 2017
Even though the role of Secretary of State in Massachusetts is, in some ways, the Commonwealth’s Chief Information Officer, and even though Twitter launched as an information dissemination tool way back in 2006, Bill Galvin only finally, at long last, got the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office on Twitter last August. Secretary of the Commonwealth is a role that needs to be cutting edge in information dissemination to the citizenry. That it took Galvin this long just seems behind the times and very out of touch.
December 17, 2017
In a jaw-dropping and offensive moment, Bill Galvin used an anti-Semitic dog whistle against his Democratic primary opponent for Secretary of State, Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim. In an interview with the Boston Herald, reported on the next day, Galvin referred to Zakim as “sneaky.” To readers who may not be Jewish or may not be aware of the attached history, terms like “sneaky” and “scheming” have long been employed as pejorative, loaded terms targeting Jewish people, akin to the racist dog whistle of calling a black woman “angry.” It’s loaded with bigotry.
It defies belief that Galvin, who has been an elected official in a major metropolitan area for more than forty years (he was first sworn in as a State Representative from Allston-Brighton in January of 1975), would not be aware of the term’s loaded meaning. And, “sneaky” is such a common dog whistle used against Jewish people in positions of power that less than one month after Galvin used the term when speaking to the Boston Herald, none other than Donald Trump used the very same word in a tweet attacking California’s senior U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein. Both Zakim and Feinstein are Jewish.
March 5, 2018
Spotlighting a particularly unhinged and entitled moment from Bill Galvin, news broke that Galvin had called Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera to yell at and attack Mayor Rivera over the phone for having endorsed Councilor Zakim in the Democratic primary for Secretary of State. Mayor Rivera recounted that Galvin yelled “I made you Mayor!” That is a particularly bizarre thing for Galvin to have yelled, in addition to being unhinged and entitled, given that Galvin had no role in Mayor Rivera’s campaign, other than overseeing a fair election, which was his job. One noteworthy and under-examined detail from the story:
Rivera told the News Service that when Galvin called his cellphone a 617 area code showed up on his caller ID, but the rest of the number was blocked. Calls placed from state government buildings often appear that way on receiving cellphones.
Particularly given that we would soon learn more about how Galvin abused his taxpayer-funded government office for campaign purposes, I for one would very much like to know if Galvin placed this campaign phone rant from his taxpayer-funded government office phone, causing the “617” caller ID notification (and, if so, if he made a habit of making campaign phone calls from his government office, in violation of ethics policies). As far as I know, he has thus far refused to comment on it.
April 25, 2018
It came out in late April from the State House News Service that Galvin has been cowardly ducking debate opportunities against Councilor Zakim, his Democratic primary challenger.
ZAKIM: GALVIN SILENCE ON DEBATES “ARROGANT AND UNACCEPTABLE”
Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim is getting irritated at Secretary of State William Galvin’s apparent reluctance to debate him. WBZ radio host Dan Rea more than a month ago offered to moderate a discussion between the two Democrats seeking the statewide post and Zakim six weeks ago challenged Galvin, who is seeking a seventh term, to participate in six debates before the Sept. 4 primary election. Zakim’s camp says it’s heard nothing back from Galvin on his debate request. “I will debate Bill Galvin anytime, anywhere,” Zakim said in a statement. “I want to share with the public where I stand on the many issues overseen by the Secretary of State’s office. He instead is opting to willfully keep voters in the dark. It is arrogant and unacceptable to do that.” Galvin’s campaign for weeks has not responded to a request for comment from the News Service. Zakim says Galvin has dodged debate requests throughout his career. “It is unfair to voters to ignore them and not tell them where you stand,” Zakim said. “Refusing to debate is his cynical attempt to lay low and protect the status quo. That won’t work. The people of Massachusetts expect, demand and deserve better.” Galvin and Zakim are on course for at least one joint appearance, at the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s nominating convention June 2 in Worcester.
As has been noted above, the Secretary of State position has a lot of Chief Information Officer-type duties. The Secretary of the Commonwealth has to keep citizens informed. But Galvin won’t even debate and inform voters on his record and why he thinks he deserves (is entitled to?) another four years in office. It is pretty disgraceful that Galvin won’t stand behind a podium a handful of times and defend his record face-to-face against his primary opponent. Public accountability should be a virtue, not an obstacle.
May 9, 2018
The Boston Globe broke the news that Bill Galvin’s taxpayer-funded government office – the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth – has effectively been operating as Galvin’s campaign office:
Secretary of State William F. Galvin, the state’s chief elections officer for more than two decades, is leaning heavily on employees within his office to help with his first serious primary fight in years, and in some cases, potentially running afoul of ethics rules.
At least 13 taxpayer-funded employees who work for the secretary of state’s office have filed election paperwork on his campaign’s behalf during weekdays or normal business hours, the Globe found after reviewing documents from dozens of local clerk’s offices.
In several instances, they did so while drawing a regular day of public pay, time sheets provided by Galvin’s office show, signaling potential ethics violations. State employees are not specifically barred from doing political work, but they’re not allowed to perform such tasks while on the public clock.
The entire episode reeked of entitlement and entrenchment, of a public servant that has grown so comfortable in his fiefdom that he no longer thinks he’s accountable to ethical standards or to the voters. A terrible – and rampantly unethical – look.
May 19, 2018
The Boston Globe breaks more news in the Team Galvin Breach of Ethics story, adding on to their previous findings:
Hock’s political work for Galvin is one of several newly discovered instances of the Galvin campaign closely intertwining with his public office, including in ways that could violate state ethics law. […]
The Globe has found six more employees in Galvin’s office who have filed signatures on his campaign’s behalf at local clerks offices on weekdays or during normal business hours, pushing the total number to 19. […]
State employees are not specifically barred from doing political work, but they’re not allowed to perform such tasks while on the public clock. Elected officials also are not allowed to “use public resources for election-related political purposes,” according to the State Ethics Commission. […]
Galvin’s office did not make the secretary of state available for an interview.
In addition to it being unethical that Team Galvin appeared to be using the taxpayer-funded Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office as a campaign base of operations, it is also fairly gross that Galvin wouldn’t even comment on the record for the Globe. Coupled with his ducking debates, Galvin clearly dreads any measure of accountability.
June 2, 2018
In a major upset given the nearly-septuagenarian Galvin’s more than forty years in elected office and nearly quarter-century in his current office – and in a major rebuke to Galvin given the aforementioned episodes above – the Massachusetts Democratic Party, at its annual convention, endorsed Councilor Josh Zakim for Secretary of the Commonwealth over Galvin, by a rather large margin of about 55% to 45%. It was the first time in 36 years that an incumbent statewide officeholder seeking re-election failed to secure the Party’s endorsement, a substantial embarrassment for Galvin.
June 19, 2018
Echoing the first entry above, seeing Galvin only getting the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office on Twitter just last August, Galvin only just kicked off a campaign/personal Twitter account less than a week ago. Again, for an office that should be at the forefront of info-tech innovation, built on a progressive foundation of openness and transparency, this just screams how behind the times Galvin is and how much the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office is hurting for fresh ideas and new energy. For example, one of Galvin’s small handful of tweets from this account shows that he did such a job planning and promoting a forum in Amherst on voting rights that, based on the photos and video, it looks like not more than fifteen residents attended. Given the noteworthy political activity underway in Amherst, this seems extremely underwhelming. And for those folks thinking, “Hey, maybe Galvin is more of a Facebook guy than a Twitter guy,” I’ll point out that, prior to May 3 of this year, Galvin’s Facebook page’s last Facebook post was July 2, 2015! Three years ago! That’s how regularly our Chief Information Officer feels the need to keep up informed.
June 22, 2018
The Boston Globe began looking into Galvin’s campaign spending, or lack thereof, and found some particular red flags:
Galvin has shelled out just $28,535 this year, according to campaign finance records, a pittance compared to the hundreds of thousands — even millions — other statewide campaigns have spent. Through mid-June, he’s reported spending nothing on office space or staff. More than half of what’s he’s doled out — $15,000 — was paid in January to a single vendor named Opinion Services LLC, a New Jersey firm that specializes in, among other things, political and public policy polling.
He’s had no paid staff, so who handled his convention logistics, coordinated what few campaign events he has held, updated his website, and put up his new Twitter account? Because I doubt he was doing those things personally. Given how many “campaign volunteers” have been government-paid staff on government-paid time, Galvin ought to answer these questions to a person regarding who did what. And, with no office space, where did they plan all of these campaign activities out? Sure, he could be having all of these “campaign volunteers” over to his home; but, given how many “campaign volunteers” have been his government office staff, is it a stretch to question if any campaign planning took place in his government offices in the State House and at One Ashburton Place? It’s certainly fair to ask the question in light of what has already been revealed.
All of these episodes add up to form the image of an entrenched elected official who, having been in elected office for more than four decades, has grown far too comfortable, entitled, out of touch, behind the times, unethical, unaccountable, and willing to stoop to dirty and shady politics to cling to his accumulated power. All of that screams out for the need for positive and progressive change.
For those who are interested in an energetic and forward-thinking alternative to the longtime incumbent Bill Galvin, his progressive challenger, endorsed by the Massachusetts Democratic Party, is Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim.
Learn about him and support his candidacy on his website: https://www.joshzakim.com/
Like him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JoshZakim/
Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/joshzakim
(In case anyone is wondering, I have no formal connection to the Zakim campaign. Not a staffer or consultant, not a volunteer* (*yet), not a delegate to the convention, just a two-time small-dollar donor: $36 on 12/18/17 after Galvin’s “sneaky” anti-Semitic dog whistle, and another $36 on 6/2/18 after Zakim bested Galvin for the Democratic Party endorsement.)