The Guy Behind the Most Bizarrely Helpful State-Run Twitter Account in Massachusetts
Campaign and political finance isn’t sexy.
On the state and municipal level, it’s less Bernie Sanders’ fire-and-brimstone sermons about Citizens United, and more a selectman candidate properly disclosing the donations he received at the spaghetti benefit.
In Massachusetts, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) is tasked with administering the state’s campaign finance law. The agency already has a slick, easy-to-use website—an invaluable resource for journalists and an enlightened electorate. But how do you get more people on it?
“For quite a long time, as part of our educational program, we just wanted to put out information about filing dates and different changes to the law,” says communications and education director Jason Tait, “and I got a sense that we were tweeting and no one was reading.”
“When I look at Twitter, I usually look at the tweets that have images there. So we decided to start using images in our tweets to maybe catch people’s eye and have a little bit of fun with a topic that is, frankly, sometimes very dry,” Tait says.
— OCPF Reports (@OCPFReports) July 27, 2016
The result is the most oddly entertaining Twitter account of any state agency in Massachusetts: a bizarro mix of Weird Twitter, legalese, and Microsoft Paint. It’s like if an Adult Swim bump went to law school.
— OCPF Reports (@OCPFReports) July 21, 2016
— OCPF Reports (@OCPFReports) March 3, 2016
Tait, who has worked at OCPF since 2008, says he and other staff spend no more than 15 minutes a day on the agency’s Twitter account, which launched in 2011. They take inspiration from a range of sources, from Seinfeld to Good Will Hunting.
“Sometimes it comes down to whether or not we just watched our favorite movie, or maybe a funny animal video on YouTube, and that might lead us to come up with some connection to campaign finance,” Tait says.
— OCPF Reports (@OCPFReports) May 26, 2016
— OCPF Reports (@OCPFReports) March 25, 2016
— OCPF Reports (@OCPFReports) March 8, 2016
Tait, a big fan of Back to the Future, says his favorite creation is a June 8 tweet combining Doc Brown’s flux capacitor with an e-filing tutorial.
“Twitter is the one area where we let our hair down a little bit,” he says. “We are a law enforcement agency, and most of the stuff we put out there is very straight and dry, but Twitter allows us to have a sense of humor from time to time.”