When I’ve objected to the ever-growing regulations imposed on anybody who tries to participate in state or local government, I’ve had in mind mainly the disincentive for people to get involved and the potential for political “Gotcha!” games. Recent news out of the Board of Elections is a reminder that government isn’t just this neutral, flawless storing house for all of our rules and information:
The Rhode Island Board of Elections acknowledged Monday that its inadvertent disclosure of banking information might have opened the door to “fraudulent activity” involving the campaign finances of two 2018 political candidates, Cranston Mayor and candidate for governor Allan Fung and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea — including the theft of money from Fung’s campaign account.
The board has learned that it mistakenly disclosed the routing numbers and account numbers of checks written by campaigns participating in the state’s Matching Public Funds program, according to a news release issued by Diane C. Mederos.
The Matching Public Funds program isn’t so substantial that every candidate or potential candidate in the state will even think about using it, but this is a warning. The state now requires all candidates to have separate bank accounts and to provide statements to the Board of Elections. These burdens have a way of expanding and becoming more detailed as they (inevitably) fail to stop the behavior they’re targeted toward stopping.
At the same time, being small and used only for the periodic purpose of elections, these accounts are easy for busy people to lose track of.
As long as I’ve been paying attention to politics, I’ve been hearing people say that we need to get the money out of it. I’m not sure making it an easy target for theft is the right way to go about that.