NEWS

Editorial: Galvin's new campaign

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

In the brief lull between the U.S. Senate primary campaign and the special general election campaign, one politician has done his best to fill the vacuum left by defeated candidates. Secretary of State William Galvin has begun popping up all over the dial.

A few weeks ago, Galvin's commercials were disguised as pleas to remember to vote in the special primary. The latest batch urges people who think they may have been victims of securities fraud to call his office for help. There is some legitimacy to this outreach, since the secretary of state's office is in charge of elections and has some oversight of the securities industry.

But there's no need to make Bill Galvin the pitchman for these informative messages - except the longstanding Bay State tradition of letting elected officials claim personal credit for delivering government services. That tradition - reflected in signs at construction sites proclaiming the name of the mayor or governor, the face of a smiling state treasurer at the top of legal ads listing unclaimed funds - is irritating at best. At worst, it is a way for to use public money on the campaigns of ambitious politicians.

The ambitious politician in this case is Galvin, who is widely reported to be interested in running for attorney general, should current AG Martha Coakley be elected to the Senate in the January special election.

Even without the political agenda, there's the question of cost. These are not public service announcements, produced on a shoestring and broadcast for free whenever the stations choose to put them on. These are commercials the taxpayers paid to have produced and also pay to have broadcast in prime-time on heavily watched shows.

How much are we paying for the secretary of state's latest campaign? With typical Beacon Hill arrogance, Galvin refuses to say. His spokesman says the ads were bought with money collected from financial securities cases. In our book, that's still public money, and the public deserves an accounting of how it is spent.

Among other responsibilities, the secretary of state is charged with enforcing the campaign finance laws and the public records laws, so we might expect him to be scrupulous about transparency. Instead, we have something that looks a lot like undisclosed campaign spending.

Take the political calculation out, and Galvin's ads still look like spending Massachusetts can't afford. At a time when the state is laying off workers by the hundreds, blowing public money on image ads for the secretary of state cannot be justified.

The MetroWest Daily News