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Grossman's binge fundraising

Posted in: Elections   *Michael Jonas   Current Affairs
Tags: Politics Fundraising



The sequence was almost as predictable as a September swoon for the Red Sox (how helpful to be able to dust that line off and get it back in circulation!).  A candidate gets elected to office pledging to bring a new day of integrity and good government to office.  Months into office that balloon gets popped by a news story reporting on all the campaign donations the official is raking in from special interests his office oversees. A finger-wagging editorial then follows, decrying the unseemliness of the fundraising haul.

The latest name to fill in to the blank of this timeless storyline is state Treasurer Steve Grossman. The former state and national Democratic Party honcho got elected state treasurer last year pledging a new era of transparency in which he would put the state’s checkbook online for all to see how their tax dollars are being spent.  

But Grossman’s good-government image came crashing down last week, when the Globe reported that the treasurer took in $45,000 in donations last month at a fundraiser chock full of bar owners, package store owners, and liquor distributors. Grossman’s office oversees the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, and the Globe said the fundraising haul from liquor interests represented nearly one-quarter of the $187,000 Grossman has raised thus far this year.  Today, the paper follows-up with an editorial titled “Dispiriting contributions,” criticizing Grossman for taking “gobs and gobs” of money from an industry he oversees.

The paper concedes that he’s not the first state treasurer to take donations from liquor interests, but says “Grossman’s haul from a single event seems unusually large.”  But is Grossman’s binge fundraising among liquor interests really any worse than having a similar sum sprinkled among monthly campaign finance reports over the course of a year?  

The fact of the matter is, not too many disinterested citizens have an abiding interest in the operation of the state treasurer’s office. The editorial says “liquor interests aren’t giving out of the goodness of their hearts.”  True enough. But neither are many of those who have filled the war chests of House Speaker Robert DeLeo or Senate President Therese Murray far beyond any level either pol raised prior to assuming their powerful posts.  

When he reigned as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, US Rep. Barney Frank marveled at how he had suddenly become a big favorite among campaign donors, “and I haven’t gotten any nicer,” the prickly pol quipped.

It is troublesome when elected officials’ campaign coffers are filled by those whose industries they hold sway over. But until we’re serious about a radical remake of our campaign finance system, it’s hard to see how it will be any other way. 

                                                                                                                                   --mICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick touts President Obama’s jobs bill on Meet the Press, NECN reports.

WBUR reports that virtually all of the Massachusetts residents who gained health insurance coverage under the landmark 2006 health care reform law are now in a government-funded program.

The Lowell Sun reports that a politically balanced Governor’s Council has found new life.

Attorney General Martha Coakley presses the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for files on the disciplining of agents and litigators in connection with harassment of fishermen, the Gloucester Times reports.
 
State Sen. Steven Baddour, vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, in a wide-ranging interview with Jon Keller, said a growing rancor forced the Senate President to call a timeout in the casino debate. The bitter reaction to an amendment proposed by Sen. Jamie Eldridge, an Acton Democrat, which would have established a five-year ban on casino employment by departing lawmakers, shows little has changed on Beacon Hill, according to The MetroWest Daily News.


MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The licenses of five Lawrence social clubs were suspended briefly in March after agents of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission raided them and found poker machines, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

An ad hoc group of Swansea officials has formed to look at revising zoning bylaws that affect solar and wind energy as the number of alternative power sources grows in the community.

Is South Boston slipping into political irrelevance?

Bicycle patrols by Boston police are a welcome sight in some violence-plagued neighborhoods .

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The House Appropriations Committee is looking to gut the Corporation for National and Community Service, which operates AmeriCorps and other national-service programs, reducing its budget by nearly 75 percent.

US Rep. Ed Markey joins a bipartisan call for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate privacy concerns about Facebook’s new automated user sharing features.

New York magazine profiles US Rep. Eric Cantor.

Everybody in Congress hates tax loopholes, except for when they don’t.

ELECTION 2012

US Rep. Niki Tsongas is scheduled to endorse US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren today, the Lowell Sun reports. Meanwhile, a new Boston Herald/UMass Lowell poll indicates Elizabeth Warren has a commanding lead over her Democratic opponents and is statistically tied with US Sen. Scott Brown.  In a development that seems highly unusual, if not unprecedented, today’s Globe has a story on the Herald-sponsored poll. It’s the second recent poll to show Brown’s support slipping; the senator fares even worse in hypothetical match-ups against Gov. Deval Patrick and former US Rep. Joe Kennedy. Conservative Sun columnist Peter Lucas says Brown is hoping Warren will emerge as his challenger. “Running against Elizabeth Warren will be like running against Leon Trotsky,” he writes.

One of the funniest observations yet of the 2012 race, from Brad Bannon at US News & World Report: “The right wing extremists don't trust former Gov. Mitt Romney and who can blame them? Romney governed as a liberal in Massachusetts, ran as a conservative in the 2008 presidential campaign and now is running as a moderate. My guess is that Romney will make another futile presidential run in 2016; this time as a vegan.”

Ann Romney is the only wife of a Republican presidential candidate with her own schedule of campaign events. Meanwhile, First Lady MIchelle Obama goes shopping at Target and draws criticism.

If Chris Christie wants to get into the presidential race, he’s going to have to take some serious heat about goings on in the Garden State. According to the New York Times, Christie’s team is scrambling to determine how quickly their guy could jump into the White House race. New York magazine sees a parallel to Hillary Clinton’s waffling in 2004.

Rick Perry is trying to explain away a racial epithet attached to a hunting camp he once leased with his father.

Will Florida’s GOP primary date ruin Republicans’ chances against Barack Obama?

Warren Buffet: Obama’s last super-rich buddy.

FISHING

Members of the state’s congressional delegation will convene a hearing today at the State House to examine the effect of federal regulations on the fishing industry, and part of the hearing will include questioning of Jane Lubchenco, the NOAA director who has been criticized by fishermen for her role in the onerous restrictions.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Occupy Boston, the Hub version of the Occupy Wall Street protests taking place in New York, is gaining strength, the Globe reports.

The National Review says US Sen. Richard Durbin, whose amendment in the Dodd-Frank Act capped debit card fees charged to retailers, is the one to blame for the recently announced $5 monthly fee from Bank of America. The American Spectator says “We told you so.”
Time reports that Bank of America’s decision to charge customers $5 a month to use their debit cards is rapidly becoming a New Coke-level blunder.

The Daily Beast ranks the 25 most inventive cities in America, and Boston doesn’t make the cut.

EDUCATION

Controversy erupts over a proposed statewide union for child care workers.

As part of its ongoing series on the Boston public schools assignment process, the Globe looks at the chaotic early weeks of the school year, when thousands of students remain on waiting lists for their desired school.

Hispanic students vanish from Alabama schools in the wake of court decision leaving Alabama’s strict new immigration law intact, USA Today reports.

HEALTH CARE

A new Massachusetts Medical Society report draws attention to physician shortages in the Berkshires and elsewhere in Massachusetts.

There is a new push for a statewide vaccine registry in Massachusetts, one of only two states without a database tracking who gets vaccinated.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

National experts are being called in to review Cape Cod wastewater management plans.

MEDIA

The Beat The Press panel wonders if the Associated Press was attempting literal accuracy or if it crossed the line when it released a transcript with some dropped “g’s” in President Obama’s speech to the Congressional Black Caucus.

The show also ponders the media’s role in pushing Setti Warren out of the US Senate race.

Andy Rooney signs off at 60 Minutes. The Daily Beast offers up his seven best kvetches.

Community news sites band together to create the Chicago Independent Advertising Network, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

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