No More Buying the Vote [PHIL-OSOPHY]
Massachusetts is finally this far away from lowering the amount of money unions can donate to state candidates, and not a minute too soon, if you ask me.
In a free and equal system, you can't have one set of rules for everyone except unions. Donating political monies has to be fair across the board. Up until now, it hasn't been.
As it stands, unions and trade associations are allowed to donate up to $15,000 to a candidate. Individuals can contribute up to $1,000, and businesses cannot give anything. The question that went before our Supreme Judicial Court was businesses and unions should be subject to the same rules. The SJC didn't see it that way, siding with the unions. However, the state's highest court did note that state law is blurred regarding different treatment of unions. And they're correct.
The $15,000 union limit was based on interpretation, and as we all know, interpretation can be slanted. The Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, in a process of reconsidering that union limit through a traditional rulemaking process, has just come out with a draft that would limit annual union and trade association contributions to $1,000 to a candidate, $500 to a PAC and $5,000 to a political party.
This union loophole has always been a disadvantage for non-union candidates in elections. Soon, I hope, we will see more equality in campaign finance law. The OCPF plans to hold a public hearing March 15 on the draft regulations and will release final rules in May. The OCPF is on the right track.
Phil Paleologos is the host of the Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.