Who knew campaign questionnaires were so controversial?

Democratic auditor candidates mix it up on transparency, abortion rights

A clarification has been added to this story.

WHAT STARTED out as a bid for greater transparency in the race for auditor has suddenly become, strangely enough, a battleground in the fight for abortion rights.

Christopher Dempsey, a Democratic candidate for state auditor, put out a press release recently saying he was posting on his campaign website all of his answers to questionnaires distributed by labor and advocacy groups seeking to find out where he and the other candidates in the race stand on issues important to each group.

The questionnaires make for interesting reading. For example, the questionnaire of the labor group AFSCME Council 93 presses the candidates on where they stand on privatization of public sector jobs. The council, which represents public sector unions and has endorsed DiZoglio, asks a series of questions about whether the candidates support the so-called Pacheco Law, a controversial statute that requires the auditor to certify whether a privatization initiative would actually save money and provide the same level of service. Many opponents of the law say it is a major barrier to privatization. 

Dempsey urged the other auditor candidates, Sen. Diana DiZoglio in the Democratic primary and Anthony Amore in the Republican primary, to follow his lead and release their questionnaire answers in the interest of transparency.

“If people have concerns about the transparency and accountability of the state auditor, then everything the auditor does will be cast with a shadow of doubt and we will lose a critical part of our state’s checks and balances,” Dempsey said in the press release. “I have promised to run a transparent campaign and I promise to be a transparent state auditor.”

So far, DiZioglio and Amore haven’t posted their responses on their websites. Doug Rubin, DiZoglio’s political consultant, sought to turn the tables on Dempsey by issuing a statement suggesting his pledge to release the questionnaires was irresponsible in one instance.

“Sen. DiZoglio has always been happy to release questionnaires,” Rubin said. “However, in one case relative to Reproductive Equity Now, Diana has been asked by the organization to not release their questionnaire because they believe it would threaten legislative goals and endanger the lives of those seeking health care. Diana stands with these brave advocates for reproductive rights, and it’s unfortunate that Chris Dempsey irresponsibly issued a press release for pure political gain without considering the damage that could be done by such dissemination — especially after the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the ongoing battle to protect reproductive rights here in Massachusetts and across the country.” 

Dempsey said in an interview that he’s aware of the concerns raised by Reproductive Equity Now, which is why he hasn’t released that lone questionnaire yet and has been talking with the organization about a safe way to release the information. On his list of answers to campaign questionnaires, it says “coming soon” next to Reproductive Equity Now.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

How the answers to a campaign questionnaire could endanger lives is hard to fathom, but for now it’s become yet another issue in the hotly contested race for auditor.

[Clarification: The original version of this story said Rubin got his facts wrong about Dempsey releasing the Reproductive Equity Now questionnaire, but Rubin insists his statement only pertained to Dempsey’s press release promising to release all of his questionnaires. Rubin said he was aware Dempsey didn’t release the Reproductive Equity Now questionnaire. The reference to getting his facts wrong was removed. By the way, Rubin said DiZoglio will post her questionnaires other than the Reproductive Equity Now one.]