9 a.m. | Supreme Judicial Court sits for oral arguments. View the docket.
12:15 p.m. | Democratic gubernatorial nominee Maura Healey and her running mate Kim Driscoll will travel to Union Station in Springfield to highlight their transportation agenda, including the expansion of rail service to western Massachusetts. They will be joined by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and other elected officials.
2 p.m. | Attorney General Maura Healey is the keynote speaker at Springfield College's event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Title IX and plans to discuss the role of sports in her life, the impact of Title IX, and the importance of ensuring women and girls have equal access to sports and education.
6 p.m. | Republican nominee for attorney general Jay McMahon holds a fundraiser hosted by Peter and Bobbi Newman at the Athol American Legion. Secretary of state candidate Rayla Campbell and House candidate Jeffrey Raymond appear as guest speakers.
Super PACs have spent more than $4 million this cycle in support of candidates like Democratic nominee for attorney general Andrea Campbell, Democratic nominee for auditor Diana DiZoglio and Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Kim Driscoll.
Fueled by single contributions as large as $100,000 from wealthy donors like Baupost Group CEO Seth Klarman, The Kraft Group President Jonathan Kraft and Continental Cablevision founder Amos Hostetter, these independent expenditure committees are allowed to raise and spend unlimited sums of money as long as they don’t coordinate directly with any campaigns.
The spending by these super PACs has come under fire from some candidates for office who oppose the influence money has on the electoral process. But on Wednesday a bid to severely curtail the ability of super PACs to raise and spend huge sums on political campaigns was nixed by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office as “inconsistent” with constitutional rights to free speech.
While Massachusetts voters have not even decided the most recent round of initiative petitions set to appear on the ballot in November, some eager beavers have already filed proposed questions for the 2024 statewide ballot.
One of those petitions, backed by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig, would have limited contributions to super PACs to $5,000 in a calendar year.
In a letter dated Sept. 7, Anne Sterman, deputy chief of the AG’s government bureau, said the petition “is inconsistent with these rights protected by the state constitution because it would impinge on the freedom of speech” and therefore ineligible to appear on the ballot.
The AG’s ruling cites many of the same legal precedents referenced by the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance in a legal memo provided to Healey’s office opposing the certification of the ballot petition.
Lessig could not be reached for comment, but Paul Craney, a spokesman for the Fiscal Alliance, said he was “proud” to help prevent the question from going before voters.
“Our freedom of speech and association must be protected,” Craney said. “The Citizens United Supreme Court decision simply allows for more speech in elections while treating individuals, employers, and unions the same. The Alliance will always protect this right, and although we won, the true winners are the people of Massachusetts who will benefit the most with more voices in their election.”
While petitioners seeking to put a question on the 2024 ballot technically have until next August to submit language to the attorney general for review, campaign finance reformers weren’t the only ones quick to the punch. Twelve proposals were submitted for review, including three accepted that would qualify motorists for tax credits or a gas tax exemption when the price of fuel climbs to $3 per gallon or higher. Others would establish substantial rebates on the purchase of electric vehicles or amend the constitution to create a right to privacy that would limit corporations ability to collect personal data.
HEALEY STARTS WITH LEAD: A new 7News/Emerson College poll has Healey leading Republican Geoff Diehl in the race for governor 52 percent to 34 percent, with 12 percent undecided. Fifty-five percent of voters view Healey favorably, compared to 34 percent who say the same about Diehl. Diehl, however, actually leads Healey among unenrolled voters 45-38, according to the poll.
— Swift joins Baker in backing Amore for auditor
Former Gov. Jane Swift mostly steers clear of Beacon Hill these days, preferring her farm in western Massachusetts to her old stomping grounds. But Swift was back at the State House on Thursday to endorse Republican Anthony Amore for state auditor, reports MassLive’s Alisin Kuznitz. The nod to Amore, who heads security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, gives the second-time candidate the support of two past and present GOP governors, including Gov. Charlie Baker, as he looks to defeat Sen. Diana DiZoglio and break up what could be a clean sweep for Democrats in November. Swift said she hopes her decision to endorse will encourage voters to give some of the down-ballot races a closer look. But like Baker, she doesn’t plan on endorsing for governor or any other office, which maybe says more about Amore than anything else.
— The Queen and The Duke
Queen Elizabeth II’s death yesterday elicited an outpouring of grief (and other emotions) from around the world. To mark her passing, WBUR’s Meghan B. Kelly put together a photo collection of her visit to Boston in 1976 when she was received by then-Gov. Michael Dukakis and Boston Mayor Kevin White.
— No rush being put on to get sports betting up and running
The NFL season kicked off last night and the Patriot’s start their season on Sunday, but betting regulators are pulling back the reins on fans’ expectations of being able to wager on a game anytime soon. MassLive’s Chris Van Buskirk reports that Gaming Commissioner Brad Hill grew frustrated listening to sports talk radio where hosts were leading listeners to believe sports betting could be available at casinos within weeks.
The commission intends to take its time, but Van Buskirk also reports that regulators took a step forward Thursday.
— Outside groups got active in final stage of DA race
With the dust settling on the bitter race for Suffolk County district attorney, the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter looks at how spending ramped up in the final weeks of the campaign, and not just from the candidates themselves. Cotter writes that political action committees accounted for about the third of the spending in the final leg of the race, with a super PAC closely aligned with Gov. Charlie Baker and his supporters dumping nearly $100,000 of the $171,432 it spent overall into supporting interim District Attorney Kevin Hayden win his first full term.
— GOP fighting Democrats and itself
The infighting within the Massachusetts Republican Party goes deeper than just Gov. Charlie Baker turning a cold shoulder to the GOP nominee for governor and other statewide candidates. MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons is involved in a court battle with the party’s treasurer over control of GOP party finances. Christian Wade breaks down the dispute in the Gloucester Daily Times.
— Abortion rights groups line up against Diehl
After the economy, voters in that new Emerson College Polling survey identified access to abortion as their next biggest concern this cycle. While voters mostly concerned about the economy prefer Diehl to Healey, Christian Wade reports in the Eagle-Tribune how abortion rights activists are “sounding the alarm” on the Whitman Republican’s record on reproductive health. Diehl identifies as pro-life and has said he would like to roll back some abortion access laws, including raising the age of consent. But he has also acknowledged that as governor his power to change abortion law would be limited.
— Lawmakers call on FTA to testify next week on T safety oversight
Legislative leaders have invited the Federal Transit Administration to testify at a second oversight hearing next week focused on the MBTA and its report on T safety. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports that Democratic leaders have also asked officials at the Department of Public Utilities, which federal investigators said has been falling short of its safety oversight role, to testify. THe hearing is being planned for Wednesday.
– Clark grad student union tees up strike vote
Recently organized graduate student workers at Clark University say they will take a vote Monday on whether to strike as talks with the school continue to languish, Timothy Doyle of the Worcester Business Journal reports. The union, formed in March, wants the school to boost stipends above current levels, which it described in a statement as “poverty pay.”
— Hampshire County primary loser says she’ll continue campaign
The second-place finisher in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for Hampshire County sheriff says she’ll continue to run for the job with a sticker campaign in the November election. Yvonne Gittelson says she’s staying in the race because incumbent Sheriff Patrick Cahillane did not receive 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday, the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Brian Steele reports.
— They really like it: More than half-million mail-in votes cast
Secretary of State William Galvin says 529,000 mail-in ballots were cast in the state primary, with the popularity of the newly expanded program far outpacing the 48,000 votes cast via early in-person voting. Christian Wade of the Salem News has all the numbers.
But not everyone nailed the mail-in voting procedures. According to the Sun-Chronicle’s George Rhodes, the city clerk in Attleboro had to reject 66 ballots because they arrived too late to be counted. Things will be different in the general election. Instead of mail-in ballots needing to arrive by 8 p.m. on election day in order to be counted, ballots postmarked on or before Tuesday, Nov. 8 have until Friday night to arrive and be counted.
— Making the case: Correia appeal heard by federal court
Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia’s legal team made their arguments for overturning his federal corruption conviction before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the original jury in the case was not “discerning” enough when it came to sorting the facts and law in the case. Jo C. Goode of the Herald News reports a decision is expected to take two to three months.
The Sunday Shows
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m.: MASSterList columnist and WBZ political analyst Jon Keller breaks down Tuesday’s primary results with guests Sen. Lydia Edwards, of East Boston, and Politico’s Lisa Kashinsky.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m.: Republican gubernatorial nominee Geoff Diehl is the guest with hosts Janet Wu and NewsCenter 5 Political Reporter Sharman Sacchetti. Diehl’s interview will be followed by a political roundtable discussion with Democratic political analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican political analyst Rob Gray.
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