When voters go to the polls, they deserve as much information as possible in making decisions about our government. Unfortunately, self-determination, one of the rights we hold most dear is under assault by cloaked spending. In a recent Huffington Post article, Paul Blumenthal writes "if 2012 was the super PAC election, the 2014 midterms look to be the dark money election."
While federal action is necessary to combat the pernicious effects of furtive spending, it is my belief that states can and should be a part of this effort. This summer, Massachusetts passed legislation to strengthen campaign finance regulations and require super PACS to disclose their funding sources.
Underlying this law, which was described by Common Cause as "one of the strongest disclosure laws in the country," is the concept that information must flow freely. To ensure the public has prompt and relevant information before voting, the law updates reporting timeframes and mandates that expenditure disclosures must be made within seven days. Importantly, this applies to out-of-state contributions, for example, the Koch brother's numerous organizations, nominally referred to as nonprofits.
And as the campaign season ramps up, aren't we all effected by the seemingly incessant advertisements? Under Massachusetts' new law, PACs that run television, print or online ads will have to list the top five contributors (when greater than $5,000) in the advertisement. Massachusetts is one of four states with this provision which the Sunlight Foundation hails as one of "the most creative provisions adopted by states."
We realize that maintaining and bettering a democracy in these uncertain times is a challenge. Because of this our law establishes a task force to study and respond to campaign finance issues.
But the message remains clear. The initiatives in this law are essential if we are to uphold an open and functional democracy. I'm proud that Massachusetts sets an example for the rest of the nation.