Democratic Governor Candidates Hate Evil, Tainted Super PAC Money
First, let me say for the benefit of Charlie Baker’s minions that I got all three Democratic candidates for governor to commit to raising taxes, at a forum I moderated in Jamaica Plain on Monday night, sponsored by Ward 19 and Ward 11 Democratic Committees and the Democratic Latino Caucus. Since they all oppose the effort to repeal automatic gas tax indexing, I asked whether they would commit to proposing each year as governor the increase that would have happened automatically, and to sign it each year if it reached their desk. All three said yes.
That’s an admirable show of consistency to principle there. But such consistency was sorely lacking on the issue of Citizens United and Super PACs.
On Monday afternoon, Martha Coakley issued a challenge via press release for Steve Grossman and Don Berwick to join her in signing a People’s Pledge to discourage outside spending. She also called on the Super PAC supporting Grossman to voluntarily disclose donors, and reiterated her support for a constitutional amendment reversing the Citizens United ruling that allows for Super PACs. “Secret, unlimited special-interest money has no place in Massachusetts elections,” the release declared.
You might recall that Coakley and Grossman have previously squabbled over all this, simultaneously declaring themselves vehemently opposed to Super PAC spending while leaving the path clear for such spending.
At the forum, I asked Grossman and Berwick whether they would re-enter People’s Pledge discussions. Berwick essentially said that he stands ready to sign any Pledge the other two clowns could agree to. As the Globe reported, Grossman launched into an assault on Coakley, declaring her public posturing on the issue “laughable.” Coakley defended herself, declaring merely a pure-hearted concern for the voting public’s need to know who is spending money to influence their vote.
Since all three are so opposed to unlimited, non-transparent, Super PAC spending allowed by Citizens United, I then asked whether any of them would be willing to say that there was something wrong with the way Marty Walsh got elected mayor of Boston a few months ago. Because, that’s exactly what happened in that election; if you think it’s terrible and corrupting of democracy, then surely you must have concerns that the secret, phantom Super PAC spending on behalf of Walsh was corrupting to the system, and bad for Boston.
Coakley, stuck with the microphone they were sharing at the forum, replied that she is focused only on her own race, and wouldn’t want to comment on anyone else’s. That’s just a ridiculous cop-out for anybody, let alone the state’s Attorney General who has called for changing the United States Constitution over the issue and who just a couple of hours earlier had publicly declared that this stuff “has no place in Massachusetts elections.”
I asked Grossman and Berwick whether they would care to comment. Both waved me off.
Look, I get it: they don’t want to offend the powerful yet-to-endorse mayor of Boston, or the mighty unions who funded the Super PACs that spent millions to help him (without disclosing their contributions, in most cases, until after the votes had been cast).
So, fine, clam up about the corrupting evil of Super PACs when it becomes politically uncomfortable. But then please, don’t expect anyone to take your moral posturing on the issue very seriously.