Rep. Winslow’s Refusal to sign the Pledge is bad for the public interest

In a statement yesterday, Republican State Representative and U.S. Senate candidate Dan Winslow made clear that he “supports reforming the way we finance campaigns in this country.” The only problem is that his actions reflect a different reality. Representative Winslow will not sign on to a “People’s Pledge” barring outside advertising in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election. U.S. Congressmen Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch, who are competing in the Democratic primary for the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat, agreed to a Pledge similar to the one put in place by Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren in last year’s Senate election.

This decision runs counter to the public interest. Without a renewed Pledge, the door is left wide open for the unlimited spending of SuperPACs, like Majority PAC, and the dark money 501(c)4’s, like Crossroads GPS, to unleash a torrent of special interest cash in our elections. Huge amounts of outside money, like we saw in Virginia, Ohio, and Wisconsin last year, will make the election for one of the Bay State’s most prestigious elected offices less transparent and more negative, and could make whoever is elected more beholden to the big donors that got him elected than to the people of Massachusetts.   

Winslow’s argument for why he will not sign the Pledge misses the mark for two reasons. First, he says the fact that Congressmen Markey and Lynch have already filled their coffers “with money from outside Massachusetts just shows you how inauthentic this pledge really is.” Outside money doesn’t mean money that comes from donors not in Massachusetts. It means money coming from groups like SuperPACs and so-called social welfare non-profits that can accept unlimited (sometimes undisclosed) donations from corporations and individuals to influence elections. The lack of contribution limits and disclosure requirements for these groups completely undermine the rest of our campaign finance system that places strict regulations on contributions to candidates.

Second, Winslow expresses surprise that “with such an urgent need for action in Washington, D.C., that anyone would be wasting time going over old plays that won’t produce a single job, a better education, a more secure retirement, a cleaner environment, a lower deficit, or an honest and straightforward way to finance our elections.” What he fails to see is that all of these issues, all of the issues that Americans care about, are intricately tied to a campaign finance system that makes elected officials more dependent on “We the donors,” than “We the People.” Signing the Pledge reveals a commitment to fixing our broken campaign system and producing “an honest and straightforward way to finance our elections.”

Please contact Representative Winslow and tell him to re-consider his refusal to sign the Pledge. The voters of Massachusetts deserve better.

Representative Winslow, Phone: 617-722-2060, Email:Daniel.Winslow@mahouse.gov

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