Why does Common Cause Massachusetts oppose the Secretary of State?

Why does Common Cause Massachusetts oppose the Secretary of State?

This post was published as a letter to the editor in the Boston Globe on August 17, 2013, click here to read.

The Boston Globe’s Aug. 8 story, “Gavin Faulted on Rules for Lobbyists,” leaves a critical question unanswered: Why would Common Cause Massachusetts, a steadfast advocate for more than four decades of open, honest, and accountable government, oppose Secretary of State William Galvin’s effort to require lobbyists to report all of their communications with public officials?

Strong lobbyist disclosure is an integral component of Common Cause’s mission. But so is upholding the rule of law. Regardless of Sec. Galvin’s intentions, his attempt to retroactively require disclosure of information not currently mandated by law is an overreach that places him above the rule of law.

In addition, such a move would eviscerate a significant goal of the ethics reform package for which Common Cause advocated in 2009. That legislation sought to make public any shared financial interests that could make public officials more susceptible to the influence of lobbyists. This new interpretation would have the effect of shrouding those actual business associations by instead deeming any communications between a legislator and a lobbyist a business association. As the Superior Court made clear such an interpretation makes “absolutely no sense.”

That is why Common Cause Massachusetts was a litigant in this case.