We remember well the clarion call “Let them hear that on Beacon Hill.” Well one year into the job, Governor Patrick is evolving into a disappointment; he is becoming just another Beacon Hill politician. But those of us who didn’t fall for the “Together We Can” mantra in the heady days of November 2006 cannot say we are surprised at the ineptitude of the progressive in the lion’s den. The tears at Blue Mass Group must be overflowing. What the people are hearing today is this: the governor is hardly a reformer. The first casualty is transparency in politics. See http://www.boston.com/news/loc…
Governor Deval Patrick has set up a novel political fund-raising system that allows him to skirt the state’s campaign finance law by channeling big contributions through the state Democratic Party, which, in turn, has paid off hundreds of thousands of dollars of the governor’s political expenses.
Under the unique arrangement, Patrick, who ran for election sharply criticizing the “politics of money and connections,” is raising contributions far in excess of the individual limit of $500 for a political candidate. Now, in many cases he is getting as much as $5,500 from individual lobbyists, corporate executives, developers, and other supporters.
The money goes into a special pot of money called the Seventy-First Fund (after Patrick’s standing as the 71st governor) which, under a written agreement between the Patrick campaign and the Democratic Party, serves as a conduit to divide up contributions.
Each donation is split between Patrick’s own campaign committee, which receives the maximum allowed individual contribution of $500, and the state Democratic Party, which receives $5,000, the most an individual can contribute to a political party.
The party then uses most of the receipts to pay off the Patrick’s campaign committee’s bills; in 2007, the party paid $339,000 of governor’s expenses, including bills for his media consultant, banquet halls, a ball room and buffets, website development, and more.
“They are gaming the system,” said M.A. Swedlund, the co-chairwoman of Mass Voters for Fair Elections, a group that advocated for public financing elections. Swedlund, who supported Patrick’s campaign last year, said she is disappointed in Patrick’s new fund-raising techniques but not surprised. “It is taking fund-raising to another level,” she said.
Wasn’t this type of politics supposed to end? And especially after 16 years of estrangement between the government and the governed? And to think that the sainted John Walsh, the anointed architect and anti-Rove, would be so dismissive.
John Walsh, the Democratic Party chairman, disputed any suggestion that using the Seventy-First Fund in this manner contradicts Patrick’s promise to dispense with special-interest politics on Beacon Hill or circumvent individual campaign limits of $500.
Together we can, indeed skirt the spirit of campaign laws. It turns out that Patrick was taking his cue from the culture he was running against. By the way, where was the Globe on this one in 1993?
But a suit by a Democratic legal team in 2003 prompted the office to change the regulations so that such funds could accept as much as $5,500. With the Seventy-First Fund, Patrick expanded that even further by setting up a written agreement between his campaign and the party that allows him to operate the fund.
Next up in today’s Globe:the ongoing ribbing from the Speaker of the House, Sal DiMasi (D-Boston). A reliable liberal, DiMasi has the fond habit of poking the “reform” Governor in the eye. This sort of makes up for the lack of a competitive political party system and one wonders what will happen to Patrick’s Big Agenda. But in the meantime there’s a nice escape hatch where Patrick can practice his soothing, if insipid, pieties: the presidential campaign. On the trail, the Governor can spread some of his magic for his compatriot the fairy tale known as Barack Obama. In the end the governor will have to come home for some old backbiting, something he didn’t consider in the nascent feel-good campaign.
Seeking to boost Senator Hillary Clinton’s primary chances in Massachusetts, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi yesterday criticized what he called Senator Barack Obama’s lack of experience and drew an unflattering parallel to Governor Deval Patrick.
“I think Massachusetts will look at it to find out what they can see in Obama with respect to what they did with their vote for Governor Patrick,” DiMasi said in response to a question. “To be perfectly honest, I really don’t want my president to be in there in a learning process for the first six months to a year. It’s too important.”
The remarks highlighted a rivalry between Patrick and DiMasi that has mostly focused on disagreements over Patrick’s policy initiatives. DiMasi clashed with the freshman governor on a number of major issues throughout 2007, posing the biggest challenge to Patrick’s efforts to tighten corporate tax codes to prevent business from avoiding state taxes, win a bill licensing three casinos in the state, and pass a $1 billion stimulus bill for the state’s life sciences industry.
Asked yesterday how he would judge Patrick’s first year in office, DiMasi offered a laugh, and said, “I say that the Legislature did a great job.”
DiMasi, who endorsed Clinton in August, made his remarks following a strategy meeting yesterday at the Omni Parker House, where legislators began laying plans for canvassing, sign-holding, and phone banking for Clinton.
Much attention has been paid, gloating in check, at how poor former Governor Romney might do in his own home state. But more than a few are starting to notice that the hollow chants from which the governor derives much substance will go poof in a Clinton Bay State landslide. Here’s some advice for the governor: start lowering expectations for the junior senator from Illinois. Rolled into the struggles with the legislature, an Obama loss speaks volumes about your diminishing political capital. Full text here: http://www.boston.com/news/loc…