Everybody’s Representative?

It doesn’t quite rise to the level of Whitehousian attack, but RI House Representative John Edwards (D, Portsmouth, Tiverton) does give a tax reformer reason to wonder how evenly his representation applies:

“There is a loophole in that law that some groups have been employing to avoid reporting campaign activities around a Financial Town Meeting,” he said. “This legislation will close that loophole.”
Edwards said Tiverton Citizens for Change spent campaign funds on “robocalls” and sent cards in the mail to residents, campaigning for particular positions at the Financial Town Meeting.
“Then, when we went to check their campaign finance report, they did not file it,” Edwards said. “They did not file the work they did at the FTM. The campaign finance laws are pretty clear, and I was surprised a PAC was able to float the law.”

To understand the nature of the wicked “loophole,” one must consider the clear law; I’ve italicized the parts that the sneaky residents leveraged in order to work their evil machinations:

(1) “Election” means the filling of any public office or the determination of any public question by vote of the electorate, and includes without limitation any state, town, or city office or question, and any political party primary election for the nomination of any candidate for public office; except that it shall not include a financial town meeting or a meeting to elect officers of a fire, water, or sewer district; …
(6) “Local election” means any election limited to the electorate of any city or town, or any part, at which any city, town, ward, or district officers are to be chosen, or any elective meeting at which a question is to be submitted to the voters of a city, town, or any subdivision of a city or town, but it shall not include a financial town meeting;

Look, if Edwards doesn’t believe previous legislators acted appropriately in explicitly excepting financial town meetings from the definition of “elections,” then he should by all means submit legislation to change the law. But he shouldn’t pretend that one group alone has been so sneaky as to follow the law.
How can residents trust his leadership when his rhetoric as an elected official is indistinguishable from the rhetoric of local partisans? Note especially the statement that “we went to check their campaign finance report.” By “we,” does he mean the General Assembly? No, he means the local Democrat Town Committee, and it’s not unreasonable to feel as if that’s whom he ultimately represents.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 years ago

So clearly, we need to subject our legislators to a fifth grade reading test before we permit them near the State House.

11 years ago

I’d ask him on a televised interview how he feels about NEARI and AFT spending money in the same way.
Additionally, is TCC a PAC? If not, then he is totally wrong on the facts and this should also be publicly exposed.

11 years ago

“we need to subject our legislators to a fifth grade reading test”
Why set the bar so high?

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
11 years ago

Like most organizations of its type, TCC has a PAC organization and a separate organization. The first account pays for elections and ballot questions; the second account pays for everything else (e.g., putting up the money for fundraisers for community projects). Because the law does not include FTMs among “elections,” expenses (and in-kind contributions) made toward that effort are in the second category.
Frankly, it all serves to highlight the absurdity of campaign finance law, in my view.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.