Chris Walsh will present the following statement to the Massachusetts General Court’s Joint Committee on Election Laws hearing today:
The Massachusetts Pirate Party supports the Massachusetts Disclosure Act (S.304), the Massachusetts Corporate Accountability Act (S.305) and the Massachusetts Fair Elections Act (S.308).
For democracy to function, it is critical for elected officials to have the confidence of those they represent. That trust is undermined when the flow of money into politics is shrouded in secrecy and when candidates fund their campaigns through large donations from relatively few, concentrated interests.
Citizens feel that the current system of campaign finance distorts the legislative process. Whether or not a lawmaker’s conduct is in fact swayed by a large donation, the perception is that money buys results and sets the legislative agenda. Consequently, citizens lose interest in remaining politically engaged and lose respect for the government. In a country and a state where government legitimacy derives from the consent of the governed, this result is unacceptable.
The Massachusetts Disclosure Act and the Massachusetts Corporate Accountability Act provide for increased transparency that would permit voters to hold their elected officials accountable for accepting donations that are perceived as compromising their objectivity. These two acts would enhance the ability of citizens to elect officials who will represent their interests and would help restore confidence in government by making it more difficult to secretly exchange favors for campaign cash. The Corporate Accountability Act also includes important provisions to protect corporate shareholders from having their money spent on political causes without their knowledge or consent, and the Disclosure Act aims to prevent foreign entities from influencing the elections of the Commonwealth. Both S.304 and S.305 are important steps towards a transparent and responsive democracy.
The Fair Elections Act, S.308, provides candidates an alternative to big-donor fundraising. When a campaign is funded through small donations from a large number of citizens, the candidate is not beholden to a few large contributors. The Fair Elections funding system encourages candidates to achieve broad appeal among all voters, including those of limited means. As a means for re-engaging millions upon millions of voters who feel disenfranchised, the Fair Elections Act, S.308, should be a top priority for the legislature.
The Massachusetts Pirate Party recognizes that progress on a wide variety of issues is severely hindered by the influence of money in politics. We see democratic reform as a core issue that must be addressed for the good of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.