Our Opinion: Loophole weakens state campaign finance laws
Massachusetts' campaign finance laws are relatively strict, but state Republicans have found a way around them to exploit weak federal laws. That has to change.
As federal fundraising limits are far higher than state limits, the Massachusetts GOP has engaged in a joint venture with the Republican National Committee in which the latter raises funds and transfers them to its state counterpart. The Boston Globe reported last June that Republican Governor Charlie Baker used the state party's federal account to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign overhead costs such as staff salaries and office rent that campaign committees usually pay.
The Office of Campaign and Political Finance ruled last month that the operation did not violate a 1998 state law banning state political figures from using federally raised donations, a questionable decision that according to Secretary of State William Galvin in The Boston Globe "basically neuters the state campaign finance laws." State Democrats want to end this practice , but if that doesn't happen they are sure to follow it instead and can hardly be faulted.
Legislation filed by Common Cause Massachusetts would close this loophole and also require that the sources of money raised for state committee races be disclosed. This bill is unlikely to come up before the end of the session, but it must be passed this year to prevent state campaign laws from being further eroded.
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