FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Emily Fitzmaurice, Massachusetts Democratic Party, 617-939-0808
State Legislators, Mass Democratic Party File OCPF Complaint Against Mass Fiscal Alliance
Group Accused of Illegally Concealing Donors, Targeting Democrats, and Violating State Election Law
BOSTON – State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and State Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) along with the Massachusetts Democratic Party today are filing a formal complaint against the secretive political group Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF), seeking an investigation into violations of state election law.
“It is clear that MassFiscal’s sole purpose is to conceal the identity of individuals and corporations who seek to influence our elections — every aspect of their operation is designed to hide the source of their money,” said Senator Eldridge. “State law permits political groups to communicate with voters, but they are required to disclose their donors. We are seeking the transparency that Massachusetts law is designed to provide, and that our voters deserve.”
The complaint argues that the not-for-profit MassFiscal is actually a Political Committee “which raises money and expends those funds for the purpose of influencing Massachusetts elections,” and thus is required by state election law to disclose its donors. MassFiscal targets only Democratic legislators and “is clearly engaged in a persistent prolonged targeted effort to defeat Democratic House and Senate members,” according to the complaint. Recently, a mailer attacking Representative Higgins was sent to voters in Leominster on a day the voters in that community were voting in a State Senate special election in an effort to sway voters against the Democratic candidate in the race.
The latest MassFiscal mailing, which accused legislators of wanting to make Massachusetts a “sanctuary state,” prominently included a citation from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the top 50 hate groups in the country. MassFiscal also sent a letter against Senator Eldridge for his support of the Safe Communities Act to all selectmen and city councilors in the Senator’s district. As part of their systematic targeting of Democratic elected officials, MassFiscal asked the selectmen and councilors in each community to pass a resolution against Senator Eldridge and the legislation, echoing MassFiscal’s incorrect description of the bill.
“When a political group is citing an anti-immigrant hate group in an effort to influence our electoral process, it’s time for them to come clean about the source of their money,” said Representative Higgins. “I want our local public safety officials to focus their limited resources on local and state needs, not enforce federal civil immigration law. Their lies about the Safe Communities Act could harm public safety efforts in Massachusetts.”
“In 2016, conservative political donors allied with Governor Baker funneled millions of dollars through several non-profit groups to fund the Governor’s charter school ballot question,” said Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair Gus Bickford. “They lost, but the Governor’s dark money machine is back at it again, hiding political spending behind a secretive group that falsely claims to be a nonprofit. OCPF has already found two groups guilty of failing to disclose their political donations. We ask them to investigate MassFiscal and hold them to the same standard.”
MassFiscal has consistently prioritized the concealment of its donors above all. After the passage of a 2016 law that would require the disclosure of the group’s top five donors on certain campaign literature, MassFiscal stopped sending out campaign literature that was subject to the new disclosure requirement, telling the State House News Service that “disclosure of donors could chill the group’s fundraising.”
In response to a previous Massachusetts Democratic Party complaint, OCPF found in August 2016 that MassFiscal had failed to properly disclose a donor who contributed $500 to support “electioneering communications.” In a public resolution letter, OCPF ruled that the Fiscal Alliance “should therefore amend its Electioneering Communication report disclose the identity of the donor.” The Fiscal Alliance refused to do so, saying that “we protect the generous support from our loyal members.”