Today, the Governor signed into law the ethics reform bill, H. 4133, An Act to Improve the Laws Relating to Campaign Finance, Ethics, and Lobbying.
I was a strong supporter of this legislation, which passed the Senate with a unanimous vote last week.
For several months now, we in the Senate have wrangled with the strength and scope of this ethics bill, and last week we passed the toughest ethics bill the Commonwealth has ever seen. This bill was the product of many months of hard work by the Senate, and I am proud to have voted yes for a bill which brings about needed ethics, campaign finance, and lobbying reform.
This bill bans all gifts to lawmakers, closes loopholes to capture all “lobbyists” and track the lobbying work they do here in Massachusetts, enhances campaign finance regulations, broadens the state’s power to investigate and punish those who break ethical laws, and stiffens penalties for those who do break the law, measures which I supported.
I do not consider this bill to be perfect. A ban on lobbyist contributions, which I pushed hard for, was regrettably dropped in Conference Committee. I also have some reservations about the effect the new lobbying rules may have on single issue, grassroots organizations that advocate on behalf of some of the most powerless people in our political system, including the poor, the elderly, and the disabled. We will have to pay close attention to the ramifications of this bill – and where necessary, continue pressing forward in our work to make our government more transparent, more accountable, and more accessible.
All of that said, I believe this bill is a powerful step forward, one that should go a long towards restoring the public’s confidence in our government. I, along with my colleagues in the Senate, am proud to have voted yes on it, and see it signed by the Governor today.