George Washington famously stated, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” As government becomes larger and more powerful, President Washington’s insight becomes more critical. The inherent power of government should be recognized and treated as such; kept in check and harnessed. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that government remains truly neutral and impartial as it conducts the public’s business. That is why the passage of Senate Bill 166 is so imperative.
Government exists to serve its citizens, not the other way around. More importantly, government exists for all citizens, equally. The power of the state should never bend to the will of any individual or group. As John Adams said, ours is “a government of laws, and not of men.” It is a very dangerous threat to public integrity for any private interest to be able to use the power of government for its own ends, especially when that private interest is that of the very public employees who staff it. When public sector unions can use taxpayer-funded services to pay for their administrative overhead in collecting political action committee dollars, the leaders of these organizations become dukes and princes inside our mechanism of government.
Many find it shocking that the state government is able to collect political action committee dollars, intended to be spent directly on the campaigns of public officials. Even union households find the practice egregious as a recent poll conducted by Susquehanna Polling & Research found that 80 percent of union households believe taxpayer resources should NOT be used to collect campaign contributions.
Any partisan campaign activity that occurs under our historic green dome should be illegal – period. That precedent has been set, time and time again. On the walk to the House Chambers this afternoon you will pass portraits of some of the most powerful government officials in Pennsylvania’s history. Several of these officials – and rightfully so – have been indicted, convicted, and are serving maximum sentences for wronging the public. They are imprisoned because they used the power, the very force of government President Washington feared, for their own political gain. The public collection of private dollars for political purposes is no different.
At its core, Senate Bill 166 is about equality under the law. Without equality under the law, our system of self-governance is directly threatened. The force of government is currently being used in unjust and extraconstitutional ways. For these reasons, the taxpayer collection political action committee dollars must be banned to ensure impartiality, proper restraint, and the integrity of Pennsylvania’s public policy process. We respectfully ask that you support Senate Bill 166.