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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Business as usual

It's hard to get a good head of steam up over the Globe's most recent look at the Friends of Tim Cahill.

No, not because I think it's a grand idea that the state treasurer -- whether named Shannon O'Brien or Tom Cahill -- is able to hit up people and companies they deal with for cash to finance public events.

Rather, it is because this basic appearance of a conflict of interest is so deeply ingrained in our public culture that removing it borders on impossible. Even when that appearance of a conflict is a violation of our ethics laws.

And the players -- former House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Haley for example -- are so much part of the culture that it would be easier to make motherhood illegal than end the practice.

It is also sad that a program that, on its surface, appears to be something valuable for the public, is not something that we can finance through public dollars. It would be so much healthier for everyone. But then some snarky blogger or anti-government zealot would probably write about the waste of public resources.

So while I love to bash Treasurer Tim at every opportunity, this isn't one of them. Too many unnamed others need to be bashed as well -- for fostering a pay-to-play culture where raising cash for campaigns and other political purposes reigns supreme.

Somehow I don't think this will be banished in the new ethics bill, even though it should.

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