New Bill Would Keep Money Off Beacon Hill During Budget Talks

By Sarah Birnbaum

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Feb. 1, 2012

BOSTON — State legislators are considering a bill that would ban political fundraisers during the three weeks surrounding budget talks. It’s not unusual for state lawmakers to hold fundraisers during budget deliberations because that’s when all the lobbyists and potential donors are on Beacon HIll. The fundraisers often held at the restaurant Scollay Square, which is right next to the statehouse.

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, says a three-week blackout won’t change the amount of money that's pumped into the system. But, he says, it might improve the public’s perception of Beacon Hill and increase voter confidence.

“Public perception is arguable as important as what actually happens at the statehouse when you’re talking about campaign finance and how candidates and legislators raise money."

Eldridge has another bill pending before the committee that would outlaw political contributions by any company executives looking to do business with the state.

“Unfortunately what sometimes happens is that a particular company is looking to get a contract, and because they’re looking to get that contract they will make a donation to a candidate, a legislator or the governor and I think that’s an undue influence. We should be issuing state contracts based on the merits of the value of that company or that union.”

Are any other lawmakers supporting this bill?

Not yet.

And it appears that Eldridge may have to convince the general public too. The bill's hearing before the State Administration Committee was sparsely attended.

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