Eldridge Delivers Maiden Speech on Ethics Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5/14/09

BOSTON – State Senator Jamie Eldridge delivered his maiden speech today on the floor of the Massachusetts Senate on the topic of ethics and campaign finance reform. Eldridge, the only candidate to be elected running a Clean Elections campaign in the history of the Commonwealth, has been a longtime, vocal advocate of the critical need to reduce the influence of special interest money on elections and reform our ethics and lobbying systems.

“Passing this bill is an important step in demonstrating to the public that we are serious about reform, serious about transparency and accountability, and that we desire to hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethics and accountability,” said Eldridge in the speech.

The Ethics Reform legislation, which passed the Senate today unanimously, strengthens the integrity of the political process by closing loopholes to capture all “lobbyists”, wiping out lobbyist campaign contributions, enhancing campaign finance restrictions and reporting requirements, and increasing penalties for those who break ethics laws.

Senator Eldridge proposed several amendments designed to make the legislation even tougher, including a ban on all gifts to legislators given because of their official positions.

Although this amendment was not adopted, other amendments offered by Eldridge – amendments ensuring confidentiality for whistleblowers, restoring the right of the Ethics Commission to continue a civil investigation even if the Attorney General is investigating the matter, and language ensuring an appropriate statute of limitations for ethics complaints – were included in the final bill.

According to Eldridge, the Ethics Reform legislation increases transparency in our government and promotes accountability.

“Without transparency and accountability,” he noted in his maiden speech, “the power lies in the hands of those with the inside knowledge and the connections necessary to get things done — or the money to buy both. Without transparency and accountability, the special interests consolidate power, while average citizens lose their ability to understand, to follow, and eventually to affect what their government is doing.

“Improving the transparency and accountability of our government is all about restoring power to the average person, and ensuring that our government is acting in the best interest of the people, and only the people, at all times.”

Click here for full text of Senator Eldridge’s maiden speech.