Our Issues 

2013 MA5 Congressional Candidate Questionnaire


Common Cause Massachusetts sent our Good Government Candidate Questionnaire to seven Democratic (Will Brownsberger, Karen Spilka, Carl Sciortino, Katherine Clark, Peter Koutoujian, Martin Long, Paul John Masiano) and three Republican candidates (Tom Tierney, Mike Stopa, Frank Addivinola) for Congress in Massachusetts' fifth district. Find their responses below.  

Note that links to received questionnaires are only provided when candidates offered more than a YES or NO answer.

Election Reform

 


1. State legislatures across the country have passed or proposed restrictive voting laws intended to keep eligible citizens from participating in elections. Other states have been slow to adopt election modernization measures that would decrease obstacles to registering to vote, increase voter accessibility by allowing for early voting and vote by mail, and ensure accurate election results with post-election audits. Would you support legislation like the Voter Empowerment Act (H.R. 12) to create national voting standards to ensure free, fair, and accessible elections nationwide?

YES

NO

UNSURE

NO RESPONSE

Brownsberger
Clark

Koutoujian
Long

Maisano
Sciortino
Spilka

Tierney

Addivinola
Stopa




2. In June 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, a key provision that dictates which jurisdictions need federal approval before changing their voting laws. For decades Section 4 and the corresponding enforcement clause in Section 5 has stood as a necessary check on state and local jurisdictions making it harder for certain groups of people to vote and diluting minority voting power with discriminatory redistricting. Fortunately, the Court has left open the possibility of reinstating Section 4 by updating the coverage formula. Do you support legislation to reinstate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act with an updated coverage formula?

YES

NO

UNSURE

NO RESPONSE 

Brownsberger
Clark

Koutoujian
Long

Maisano
Sciortino
Spilka

Tierney

Addivinola
Stopa 



Campaign Finance Reform



1. An avalanche of special interest money in elections is buying our elections and controlling public policy. Just as important, the extension of constitutional rights to corporations has resulted in the courts overturning hundreds of laws protecting our health, safety, environment, and democracy. A constitutional amendment is necessary to undo these impediments to self-government. Would you support a constitutional amendment affirming that 1) rights protected under the Constitution are the rights of natural persons and not of incorporated entities and 2) money spent to influence elections may be regulated by Congress and the states?

YES

NO

UNSURE

 NO RESPONSE

Clark

Koutoujian
Long

Maisano
Sciortino
Spilka

Brownsberger
Tierney

Addivinola
Stopa 




2. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010) spending by independent political groups has skyrocketed from $300 million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2012. Over the same period, disclosure of independent group spending has greatly decreased. In 2012, a mere 41% of all independent group spending was fully disclosed, 29% was only partially disclosed because of shell corporations and other intermediary groups, and 30% was completely hidden because nonprofit 501(c)(4)’s are not required to disclose their donors. Would you support legislation like the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 148) to ensure that all political spending in federal elections by corporations and independent political groups is publicly disclosed?

YES

NO

UNSURE

 NO RESPONSE

Brownsberger
Clark

Koutoujian
Long

Maisano
Sciortino
Spilka
Tierney

Addivinola
Stopa 




3. Recent Supreme Court rulings allowing for unlimited spending in elections by corporations and independent political groups has made a bad situation worse. Now more than ever, large campaign checks threaten to unduly influence election results and public policy. It is hard to imagine how America can face the difficult challenges of the 21st Century – health care, climate change, energy independence, international unrest, and an unsteady economy – and achieve real progress when our elected representatives face such fundraising challenges and are so dependent on financial elites for their political survival. Would you support legislation like the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 269) to enact a citizen funded election model that matches small dollar donations with federal funds?

YES

NO

UNSURE

 NO RESPONSE

Clark

Koutoujian
Long

Maisano
Sciortino
Spilka

Tierney

Brownsberger

Addivinola
Stopa 




4. The IRS has failed to prevent groups from improperly claiming section 501(c)(4) tax-status in order to launder secret contributions into federal elections. The rules have been interpreted to permit section 501(c)(4) groups to engage in substantial campaign activities, while the statute governing section 501(c)(4) groups explicitly states that such groups are required to engage “exclusively” in social welfare activities which does not include campaign activities. In 2012, these groups spent more than $250 million to influence federal elections. Do you support legislation to establish a bright-line test that permits such groups to engage only in a de minimis, insubstantial amount of campaign activity?

YES

NO

UNSURE

 NO RESPONSE

Clark

Koutoujian
Long

Maisano
Sciortino
Spilka
Tierney

Brownsberger

Addivinola
Stopa 



Supreme Court Ethics


1. It is critical that members of our nation’s highest court are held to the highest ethical standards. However, the federal judiciary's Code of Ethics does not apply to the Supreme Court. The Code warns judges against engaging in fundraising or partisan political activity or hearing cases in which they may have a personal interest. It also instructs judges to avoid any conduct on or off the bench which might erode public confidence in their impartiality. Do you support legislation like the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2013 (H.R. 2902) to require Supreme Court justices to adopt the Code of Ethics?

YES

NO

UNSURE

 NO RESPONSE

Brownsberger
Clark

Koutoujian
Long

Maisano
Sciortino
Spilka

Tierney

Addivinola
Stopa