Yesterday RMG profiled Republican candidate for State Auditor Kamal Jain. Kamal has recently left the Libertarian party to run in the Republican primary. Today we bring you our exclusive interview.
Mike Rossettie: Why are you running for Auditor?
Kamal Jain: I am running for State Auditor because our state government is out of control and unsustainable — if we, the people, do not rein-in our government, we are headed for fiscal ruin. Only the State Auditor has the authority and mandate to provide the voters and taxpayers with a report card on governmental operations, policy-making and spending decisions.
The government does not allow us to audit ourselves; we must not allow government to audit itself. My goal is total transparency and accountability. We need to know the truth about total spending. We need to know how total spending is much higher than the statutory budget, and we need to know that total spending has grown more than 20% in the past five years. Massachusetts voters need to know that we have the highest per capita long-term debt of any state in the union, and that the bond ratings agencies have expressed concerns about our level of debt.
I am running because you deserve to know where your money is going so that you can decide what spending is important and what is not. When you do, you can make your opinions loud and clear to our elected and appointed officials.
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Mike Rossettie: If elected, what would you like to accomplish?
Kamal Jain: My top priority as Auditor will be to bring 100% total transparency to state spending and operations. The public should have the tools and information to allow them to review every single transaction and contract decision made by the state government. People should be able to assess these transactions in a wide variety of ways — much the way in which auditors and consultants do in the private sector. I will publish this information and the tools to assess it on a website anyone can visit.
The state must be run more like a business; forced to operate within its means and to prioritize its choices. I will work with the legislature to make total transparency a law, compelling future Auditors to comply with the mandate for transparency and accountability. Second, I will establish a group of volunteers from the private sector to review state government operations, much as the famed Grace Commission did during the Reagan administration. They identified over 30% of Federal spending as waste. Based on all the stories we see in the media, it is easy to believe that we can find similar results right here in Massachusetts.
Mike Rossettie: You have run as a Libertarian in the past. Why are you running as a Republican now?
Kamal Jain: I am running as a Republican because I am running to win, to fight for the people of Massachusetts. Like it or not, the United States is a two-party nation, and running as an independent or third-party candidate is a serious disadvantage. People are accustomed to choosing between Democrat and Republican. I came to accept the fact that the only way I can bring total transparency to state government is to accept the two-party system and run with a party I can find some common values with. I found many people in the Republican Party that share many of my values. I am a Barry Goldwater Republican, a Ronald Reagan Republican — a Ron Paul Republican. I am taking a cue from Ron Paul himself, who returned to the Republican Party after trying to run under the Libertarian banner.
Mike Rossettie: Who did you vote for in the special election for Senate and why?
Kamal Jain: I voted for Joe Kennedy, because I agreed with Kennedy on more issues than I did with Brown. It was not an easy decision to make. I took serious issue with Brown’s voting record on issues of taxation, healthcare and freedom. He opposed Question 1 in 2008, which would have ended the state income tax. He supported RomneyCare, which was praised by both Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, and is the basis of the models now being proposed in Congress. He voted in favor of S.2028, the “Pandemic Bill” passed by the Massachusetts Senate last year. Given his record, it was difficult for me to trust him on such issues going forward.
Scott Brown’s campaign, and his victory, has brought tremendous new energy to the Republican Party, as well as to numerous grassroots activists such as Tea Party and 912 people. That’s a wonderful thing! We must immediately tap into this energy to field more local, state and federal candidates this November to take back our government and attempt to restore some form of balance in Washington. Now that Brown has won the election, we must hold him to his promise of not voting for any form of national healthcare, increased taxation, or increased spending.
We must organize nationwide to block all attempts by Congress to pass any form of national healthcare, and to block government at all levels from reducing our freedoms, increasing taxation, or increasing spending. Hopefully Scott Brown will earn the trust of people who have issues with his past voting record.
Mike Rossettie: What do you think of Mary Z. Connaughton?
Kamal Jain: I’ve met Mary a number of times and I like her. I noticed that she has recently picked up on my mantra of transparency. This is a smart choice on her part, but I question her commitment to true transparency and accountability. I did not see much transparency when she was on the Turnpike Authority. I haven’t heard her talk about total spending or exposing every transaction to the people.
She’s campaigning on the idea that the State Auditor ought to be an actual auditor, which is a weak premise. There are about 300 people already working in the Auditor’s office. The state spends millions of dollars each year to have outside audit firm validate internal audit results. There are tens of millions of financial transactions every year. One more auditor isn’t going to make any difference or help promote transparency. The Auditor’s office needs a leader that will open up the books and allow the millions of people in Massachusetts to see every transaction in full detail. When I am Auditor, this information will be publicly available at no cost on a website.