The Committee to Protect Dogs and Jobs. You've heard it here first. A Washington, D.C. lobbyist named Read Martin ordered the domain name ProtectDogsandJobs.org, a site that's currently under construction. Most voters wouldn't be aware of this, but Read Martin is a business associate of Glenn Totten, of Totten Communications, hired by Raynham Park as a politician consultant to defeat the 2000 attempt to ban Greyhound Racing, which was the closest ballot question fight in Massachusetts state history.
So what's the big deal here? Two things - first, it's clear that because the Race Tracks in Massachusetts know they can't win the battle of ideas, they're going to try to confuse the voters. Already posted to Youtube are videos of cute little dogs and their adoptive parents - with one add titled Adopt a Massachusetts Greyhound, Vote No on 3. They're trying to send the message that if you really want to help Greyhounds, you should vote no on 3. Of course, they're skipping the maiming and the sufferring parts.
Even more important than trying to create a campaign solely meant on confusing voters is the fact that it appears as if state law is being violated. Why? The Committee to Protect Dogs and Jobs has not been filed with the State OCPF, the organization that oversees campaign finance law for state elections. As a ballot question campaign, they are required to file with the state before they start raising any money - and certainly before they spend any of it.
From the OCPF website itself:
Political Committees and Other Organizations
A political committee is a committee that raises money for a specific political purpose, such as:Emphasis mine.
The election of a single candidate (candidate's committee);
The election or defeat of one or more candidates (political action or people's committee);
The promotion of a particular party (state and local party committees); or
The passage or defeat of a ballot question (ballot question committee).
Before it can raise funds for its specified purpose, a committee must be properly organized with OCPF or, if applicable, a local election official.
Of course, as with anything this cynical and irregular, the bludgeon they keep hitting themselves with doesn't stop. Among those sweet, kind-hearted videos on the Youtube site are a few claims that are flat out wrong. In fact, the very title of the ad - "Adopt a Greyhound, Vote No on 3" - is misleading, at best. Adopting Greyhounds and voting no on 3 have nothing to do with each other.
But it only gets worse from there. The first text to pop up on the featured ad is, in fact, false. The ad claims that the Greyhound adoption rate in Massachusetts is 100% - all Massachusetts Greyhounds are placed in a loving, caring home. Not exactly. According to the Massachusetts State Racing Commission, only 14% of track dogs end up being adopted in Massachusetts. For the math-challenged among us, that means the lobbyists are off by a whopping 86% - 65% of the dogs in Massachusetts are just sent to a new track, out of state and out of mind, where we can't keep track of them. Perhaps those are states that don't have such strict regulations as Massachusetts in terms of reporting what actually happens to Greyhounds at Wonderland and Raynham.
The second number that pops up in the same ad is a claim that can only be described as misleading. The ad claims that the state's race tracks have "contributed" $1.34 million to Greyhound Adoption agencies from 2000-2007. In fact, that's false. In 2001, a law drafted by Grey2K was carried by State Representative Pat Jehlin, establishing the Retired Greyhound Care and Adoption Council. Under this law, a portion of the taxes that the state was already collecting from gamblers spending money at Raynham and Wonderland was redirected to this council: that was the funding mechanism. So, in essence, it's the people who gamble at these tracks who have "contributed" these funds, not the tracks themselves.
Moreover, if the money weren't redirected to this Council, it would have been sent directly to the state's coffers. So let's not confuse this money with a generous donation that's being handed down from the industry to the adoption agencies in anyway, whatsoever. While it's good that the state has directed some funding to adoptive services, it's a small band aid on a gaping wound. The very reason for the fund's very existence would evaporate if we began to phase out Greyhound Racing in Massachusetts.
So let's try to get this all straight: the dog tracks are currently in the process of setting up their campaign to defeat Question 3. Their chief tactic appears to be confusing the voters, making them think that voting no on 3 will help Greyhounds. Furthermore, their campaign is currently violating OCPF campaign finance regulations in Massachusetts. I guess this all this shadowy mess is par for the course with the dog track industry - it's not as if they haven't tried to mislead and lie to the voters before.
Crossposted at BlueMassGroup.