Watchdog Group Testifies in Support of Campaign Finance Reform Bills

Common Cause Massachusetts testified today before the Joint Committee on Election Laws in support of bills that would improve Massachusetts campaign finance laws. Specifically, the Committee heard legislation including bills to limit political spending by foreign-influenced corporations.
“Voters are concerned about the influence of special interest political spending – and particularly concerned about foreign influence on our elections,” said Common Cause Massachusetts executive director Geoff Foster. “Current law prohibits foreign governments and foreign citizens (except lawful permanent residents) from spending money in state elections. Yet a loophole allows foreign money to enter our politics through political spending by corporations. These three bills will all help to close this loophole for our Massachusetts state elections.”
“Our country’s Founders were rightly worried about foreign influence in elections, fearing that Europe would try to corrupt and undermine the new Republic’s independence,” Foster told the Committee in his testimony. “Here, at the birthplace of the American Revolution, we should act now to protect our own state’s democracy. Please give these bills a favorable report.”
H.722 and S.430, introduced by state Sen. Mark Montigny and Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven, would limit political spending in Massachusetts elections by foreign-influenced corporations.
Common Cause Massachusetts also endorses bills being heard by the Committee that allow campaign funds to be used for childcare.
“If we are to have a ‘government of the people,’ it’s crucial that our elected officials reflect the full range of our lived experiences – and that includes parents from working families,” Foster said. “We know the cost of childcare is a barrier to potential candidates, and we know our democracy is less robust if these candidates are kept on the sidelines. Common Cause Massachusetts believes the Commonwealth should join the growing number of jurisdictions that allow candidates to use campaign funds to pay for childcare, and we urge the Committee to give both these bills a favorable report.”
H.669 and S.422, introduced by state Rep. Mike Connolly, Rep. Joan Meschino and Sen. Pat Jehlen, would allow parents running for office to use campaign funds to pay for childcare expenses. Similar bills to limit corporate spending have been passed in St. Petersburg, Florida and Seattle, Washington. Massachusetts’ own Sen. Elizabeth Warren also introduced a similar bill to Congress in 2020.
Former Common Cause Massachusetts executive director Pam Wilmot was a member of the Special Commission on Family Care and Child Care Services, which sought to investigate the benefits and drawbacks of allowing candidates to use campaign funds for childcare. In December 2020, the commission released a report that concluded that candidates should be permitted to do so.
29 other states already allow the use of campaign funds for childcare expenses. At the federal level, in 2018 the Federal Elections Commission advised that a candidate for office in New York was permitted to use campaign funds for childcare expenses that were a direct result of her campaigning.
Foster’s testimony from today’s hearing is available here: LINK