Boston Herald: Chabot: Race to shed light on PACs

Big-bucks donors behind the latest mudslinging super PAC ads shaping the Massachusetts gubernatorial race will have no place to hide in only a few days as lawmakers are likely to pass legislation requiring the groups disclose their fundraising and spending.

“I feel confident that we’ll be able to pass a bill before the end of session Thursday,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), who filed one of the bills meant to shed light on the groups. The bill is in conference committee and is expected to be released and approved before the end of session tomorrow.

The bill would require the shadowy organizations to disclose their donors as well as their expenditures in an effort to prevent outside corporations from buying local elections. It would also require the super PACs to list the names of their top five donors in any television or print ads in an effort to highlight corporations or unions backing candidates.

“When someone sees an ad they should at least know this corporate entity is a big contributor to this ad,” Eldridge said.

The legislation means super PACs must immediately follow the disclosure laws. Democratic candidates Martha Coakley, Steve Grossman, Don Berwick as well as Republican Charlie Baker have voiced support for the bill. Lawmakers are scrambling to pass bills before the legislative session ends tomorrow.

“It’s quite likely that we’re going to continue to see a lot of this activity, but it’s going to come from all sides and all directions,” Baker said about a recent negative ad released by a super PAC.

“It’s incumbent on the campaigns and the candidates to make sure that they do everything they can … to make sure they deliver their message of why it is they want the job,” Baker said.

Baker was the target of the first negative super PAC ad of the gubernatorial race. The most recent ad buy is a blue-on-blue attack in the Democratic primary from Massachusetts Forward Together, a pro-Grossman group. The ad features a surviving family member of gun violence and hits Coakley for opposing a one-gun-a-month purchase limit.

Baker said he expects to see more to come.

“The super PAC ad is just one of what I expect we’ll see a lot of,” he said.

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