Just a quick note: the text of our press release is below. After the jump, you’ll find the text of the letter sent to Democratic candidate Maura Healey. Very similar letters were sent to John Miller and Warren Tolman as well.
Boston, MA: The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, which advocates for fiscal responsibility and good-government policies, announced today that it has sent letters to Maura Healey, John Miller, and Warren Tolman, encouraging them to pledge that they will not accept donations from unions in excess of $500. Healey, Miller, and Tolman are the three current candidates for Attorney General in the upcoming 2014 elections.
“Our ‘People’s Fairness Pledge’ addresses the major campaign finance loophole that unions have frequently exploited,” stated Paul Craney, the group’s executive director. “While individuals can only donate $500 per calendar year to a given campaign, and corporations are forbidden to donate any money at all, unions can give up to $15,000 to the candidate of their choice.”
Healey and Tolman have made news recently by sparring over the terms of their “People’s Pledge,” which seeks to limit the use of so-called “independent expenditures” by outside groups not directly affiliated with the campaigns. Neither Healey nor Tolman has expressed any concern about the current favoritism shown to unions by state law. In the 2013 Boston mayor’s race, unions gave over $500,000 to Mayor Martin J. Walsh in contributions exceeding $500, a sum equal to more than 15% of his total fundraising.
“As the candidates to be the chief prosecutor in Massachusetts, they have a particular obligation to ensure that all are treated fairly. We strongly encourage them to demonstrate their commitment to upholding that obligation by refusing to allow unions to deploy their unfair advantage on behalf of their campaign,” Craney concluded.
June 5, 2014
40 Winthrop St
Charlestown, MA 02129
Dear Ms. Healey,
Recently, your candidacy for Attorney General has made news as you attempt to negotiate a “People’s Pledge” with your Democratic primary opponent. Reports indicate that the use of outside money on direct mailing remains a sticking point. However, there has been no indication that any efforts are being made to limit the outsized influence of union money in Massachusetts elections.
Regardless of whether you think the Citizens United case was rightly decided, it provided a level playing field to anyone, whether an individual, corporation, labor union, or another entity, who wishes to engage in independent expenditures. Nonetheless, individuals are still able to donate only $500 each calendar year to any Massachusetts candidate, and corporations remain prohibited from making any donations at all. Any labor union, by contrast, can make a $15,000 donation to the candidate of its choice. The ability to solicit these donations has played a very significant role in recent high-profile races, including the Boston mayoral election last year. During his campaign, Mayor Walsh received 106 union donations in excess of $500, and these added up to over $500,000, more than 15% of his total fundraising. That playing field is hardly level.
We believe that this represents a clear and unacceptable double standard, and we hope that you, the other candidates for Attorney General, and eventually all Massachusetts candidates will agree both that this must stop and to return any union donations beyond $500. Particularly in light of the role campaign finance has already played in this race; we are hopeful that your voice would help to stem the tide of union money into the Commonwealth’s politics.
As a candidate to be the chief prosecutor in Massachusetts, you have a particular obligation to ensure that all are treated fairly. We strongly encourage you to demonstrate your commitment to upholding that obligation by refusing to allow unions to deploy their unfair advantage on behalf of your campaign.
Paul D. Craney