June 1, 2016

Fighting Money in Politics

This below image and text were received from Cambridge, MA City Councilor Nadeem Mazen. The wealthiest person in Cambridge, MA is the corporation officially known as The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Harvard University has a $37 billion endowment. Do they use any of it to influence elections and policy decision makers? Does their wealth influence the court system? Harvard has three full time lobbyists in Washington, DC. Most of the city councilors and many city employees are Harvard graduates. The university controls city and state government. Does Harvard's money corrupt what the prominent university does? Mazen does not say. 

Earlier this year a prominent Harvard University Law School professor of ethics, Lawrence Lessig, chose to run for President during his leave of absence. He began using his offices for his campaign in apparent direct violation of IRS laws, US Treasury department laws, city and state tax laws. One of his hired consultants at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University may also have used his office for the campaign. His company address is in California. Then a woman professor at the Harvard Center for Government and International Studies published an essay in the Washington Post attacking Donald Trump. Was this another illegal use of the University's 501(c)(3) tax exemption? Did their $37 billion endowment encourage their alleged transgressions? Mazeen does not speak about these events.

The Ethics professor decided to run after he raised more than $1 million for his campaign. But he dropped out shortly after he announced. He is allowed by state and US law to keep the money he raised for future campaigns. Did I mention the reason he gave for running was to fight corrupt campaign finance practices? Mazeen does not address this as an abuse. Ex-MA State Senator Jarrett Barrios, left his senate seat with $500,000 in campaign funds which he kept. Barrios is now the CEO of the Massachusetts Red Cross and earns over $300,000 a year in salary, plus unknown  benefits. The goal of ending campaign finance abuses attracts a certain nobility among politicians. 

Usually emails from high minded city councilors include invitations to fund raising parties. Do they all oppose money in politics while they want you to give them your money? Are they "not politicians" as former Governor Patrick of Massachusetts used to announce, saying "I am not a politician."? 

Help Get Money Out of Politics
We have been working hard to reform campaign finance in Cambridge and push back against special interests but we need your help! Join the Team Nadeem Campaign Finance Working Group to fight for publicly-financed elections alongside other committed local activists.

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