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William Galvin’s effort is an irksome overreach on ethics reform

A Superior Court judge found that Secretary of State William F. Galvin had overstepped his authority in his interpretation of the state’s revamped ethics laws.Jessica Rinaldi for The Boston Globe/File

Your article “Gavin faulted on rules for lobbyists” (Page A1, Aug. 8) raises a critical question: Why would Common Cause Massachusetts, a steadfast advocate for more than four decades of open, honest, and accountable government, oppose Secretary of State William Galvin’s effort to require lobbyists to report every communication with public officials?

Strong lobbyist disclosure is an integral component of Common Cause’s mission. But so is upholding the rule of law. Regardless of Galvin’s intentions, his attempt to retroactively require disclosure of information not currently mandated by law is an overreach that places him above the rule of law.

In addition, such a move would eviscerate a significant goal of the ethics reform package for which Common Cause advocated in 2009. That legislation sought to make public any shared financial interests that could make public officials more susceptible to the influence of lobbyists. The secretary’s action would have the effect of shrouding those actual business associations by instead deeming any communication between a legislator and a lobbyist to be a business association. As the Superior Court judge made clear, such an interpretation makes “absolutely no sense.”


Tyler Creighton
Assistant director

Common Cause Massachusetts