The post by Bastien begins here [Ed.]:
Campaign reform is an issue we can all get behind. Until Beacon Hill stops limiting transparency and conducting the people’s work behind closed doors, we need to ensure that special interest groups and PACs are not having an unfair and outsized manipulation of the process. The line between legislators being informed by groups on issues they care about, and the appearance or outright establishing of quid pro quos and buying of legislators is being obscured by the lack of transparency on Beacon Hill. If the debate was out in the open, one could judge whether someone was in a group’s pocket or not. When it’s behind closed doors, the public is shut out about knowing what their elected officials are really saying or supporting.
Former State Representative Richard Bastien sent the below letter to his opponent Jen Flanagan asking her to agree to join with him in banning outside special interest donations in the race for State Senate. Tell Jen Flanagan to sign the People’s Pledge and keep special interest and lobbyist money out of candidate’s campaign accounts.
July 17, 2014
Leominster MA 01453
As someone who believes that heavy outside special interest spending in campaigns, particularly since the Citizens United ruling can lead to the appearance of putting the needs of special interests above the needs of the citizens of our district, I ask you my fellow candidate, Jennifer Flanagan, to join me in agreeing to ban all campaign donations from lobbyists, PACS, Corporations, Unions, and special interest groups from our campaigns in the 2014 election for State Senate in the Worcester and Middlesex district. I believe that we can set a new standard that can show the Commonwealth and the nation that elections should be decided by the people, not by how much special interest groups can give to a candidate or candidates.
In the interest of reaching that agreement, I have attached a signed Pledge, modeled on the agreement between Senator Elizabeth Warren and Former Senator Scott Brown from the 2012 United States Senate campaign. If you agree to it, please sign yourself. With our shared commitment to banning special interest spending in this race and your record and mine as candidates and legislators in support of Clean Elections, I am confident we will have a signed Pledge in a matter of days.
We can together make this campaign about the needs and interests of the people of the Worcester and Middlesex district. Together, we can make this a campaign about our experience and vision for the Worcester and Middlesex District and avoid a campaign dictated by the spending of outside special interests. I look forward to you joining me in making this campaign about the needs of the people, not the needs of special interest groups.
The pledge that I signed and sent follows
THE PEOPLE’S PLEDGE
Because each of the undersigned candidates agrees that this campaign should be decided by the people of the Worcester and Middlesex District, not by how much special interest groups can give to a candidate or candidates; and
Because special interest groups, including but not limited to PACS, lobbyists, corporations, or unions, may attempt to exert an outsized influence on the Massachusetts election for State Senate in the Worcester and Middlesex district by donating to candidates’ campaigns while the PAC, lobbyist, corporation, or union has legislation or appropriations before the legislature; and
Because each of the undersigned candidates agrees that taking direct campaign donations from PACS, lobbyists, corporations or unions could be perceived as a quid pro quo for an expectation of support for favorable financial legislation or appropriation for the special interest group that might run counter to the needs of constituents, taxpayers, and working families in the Worcester and Middlesex district; and
Because each of the undersigned candidates agrees that given the recent probation trial involving Speaker DeLeo as an unindicted co-conspirator, the convictions of the three most recent Speakers of the House Salvatore F. DiMasi, Thomas Finneran, Charles Flaherty, and the recent conviction of State Senator Diane Wilkerson on tax-evasion charges from accepting bribes over an 18-month period that totaled $23,500, a culture of corruption has existed on Beacon Hill; and
Because each of the undersigned candidates agrees that they do not want any such donations from PACS, lobbyists, corporations or unions to lead to an outsized voice of special interest groups over the people’s voice in the Worcester and Middlesex district; and
Because the undersigned candidates recognize that in order to continue to make Massachusetts a national example, and provide the citizens of Massachusetts with an election free from outside special interest groups, they must be willing to include an enforcement mechanism to the candidates’ own campaigns:
Therefore, the candidates on behalf of their respective campaigns hereby agree to the following:
1. In the event of a donation from a registered PAC, lobbyist, corporation, or union to the candidate or their campaign, the donation shall be returned immediately and not deposited in the campaign account.
2. In the event that a donation from a registered PAC, lobbyist, corporation, or union has been deposited in a campaign account since July 17, 2014, the campaign shall, within three business days of discovery of the donation, notify the other undersigned candidate’s campaign, Sentinel and Enterprise, Telegram and Gazette, and other newspapers and media in the district of a violation of the People Pledge and pay an amount equal to 100% of that donation to The One Fund.
3. In the event that the undersigned candidate fails to make the charitable donation within the three day requirement, the contribution shall double and be payable immediately.
4. The candidates and their campaigns agree to continue to work together to limit the influence of PACs, lobbyists, corporations, or unions during the course of this campaign.
July 17, 2014
Richard Bastien Date
Jennifer Flanagan Date