State Senator Michael J. Barrett '70 (D-Cambridge) yesterday proposed the creation of a commission to rewrite the laws surrounding campaign finance which have been called into question by a recent series of articles in the Boston Globe.
In a press release prepared by his office, Barrett said his proposal came in response to recent news articles which he believed had produced a lack of confidence in the legislature.
The Globe's "Spotlight Team" series reported that Representative Charles F. Flaherty (D-Cambridge) and Senator William M. Bulger (D-Boston) traveled to resort areas at the expense of lobbyists and political action groups. Flaherty is speaker of the house, and Bulger is Senae president.
Flaherty's office said he was unavailable yesterday, and a spokesperson declined to comment on the Globe series.
At the resorts, the Globe series alleged, a small group of powerful legislators and lobbyists influence laws.
"What exists of citizen confidence is being swamped by arising tide of scandalous stories and dismaying reports," Barrett said.
Barrett said in an interview yesterday that he hopes his proposed commission, which is to be made up of private citizens, will prevent legislators from accepting trips paid for by lobbyists.
Barrett said he believes that although the trips taken by Flaherty and Bulger are not isolated incidents, most legislators refuse such offers.
"The average legislator is honest, and doesn't take junkets," Barrett said, adding, "I don't take junkets."
Still, Barrett said his primary reason in proposing a private, blue-ribbon commission is to provide an "impartial" arena for a discussion of campaign finance and ethics laws.
I don't necessarily trust the legislature," Barrett said. He said politicians are likely to draft permissive laws when they regulate themselves.
Although Barrett said he recognized that the creation of an outside panel may set a precedent for mistrust of legislators, he said he felt the issue was two- sided.
"You are dealing here with two separate issues," Barrett said, "the reality of conflict of interest and the perception of it."
Barrett said he hoped that a panel of "reliable and expert" professionals would restore citizens' confidence in the legislature. He said he is drafting legislation to create such a commission.
Barrett said earlier this year that he is exploring a run for governor in 1994.
The Boston Globe reports that State Representative Charles F. Flaherty (D-Cambridge) went junketing with lobbyists in Puerto Rico. Now, State Senator Michael J. Barrett '70 (D-Cambridge) is calling for a blue-ribbon commission to reestablish public confidence in the legislature