Campaign Finance Changes

Did you happen to see the recent op-ed written by Paul Gangi, MassFiscal Program Director, which appeared over the weekend in Commonwealth Magazine?

The Fiscal Alliance Foundation and its sister organization, the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, teamed up and successfully influenced the outcome of changes to our state campaign finance regulations. Although none of the proposed changes would impact our work, we felt it was important to “push back” and defend the important rights of freedom of speech and association.

"The United States Supreme Court has consistently upheld the rights of members of non-profit organizations to remain private. Many of these decisions stem from the 1950s and 1960s, where the importance of ensuring that pro-civil rights non-profits could maintain the confidentiality of their membership rolls was readily apparent. This right to association stems from the fact that non-profits do not advocate for the election or defeat of candidates for office, but rather advocate for issues. While this distinction can sometimes create confusion for non-experts of campaign finance law, they are legally distinct and different.

Our main concern was ensuring that that OCPF’s regulations are objective, not subjective. For example, while the previous regulations provided certain “safe harbor” provisions for donors, giving them the opportunity to establish that certain donations to non-profits were not intended to be used for political purposes (and thus that their identity need not be publicly disclosed), the proposed revised regulations would have done away with this provision. Had the proposed regulations been approved as drafted, they would have provided OCPF with broad powers to make unilateral determinations regarding donor intent, and to mandate disclosure of donors — without even giving donors a chance to defend themselves by presenting evidence that their contributions were not intended to support activities that require donor disclosure."

Click here to read the entire article in Commonwealth Magazine.