This is interview #33 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day. A new interview is released every Monday, so check back often!
Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Kamal Jain. Kamal Jain is a Massachusetts native who’s been paying taxes since he was 14 years old. He has performed volunteer disaster relief, community activism, and search and rescue work, worked as an emergency medical technician and security guard. Most of his career, however, has been working in high-tech in a variety of roles, predominantly for start-up companies in technology operations and customer service management roles. As a businessman, he has worked extensively with budgets and the challenges they present. Kamal is presently running as a Republican for Auditor of the State of Massachusetts.
Josiah Schmidt: What compelled you to enter elective politics?
Kamal Jain: I’ve run for office in the past to give voters a choice, and to educate them on the issues, but this is the first time I’ve been able to run to win. After speaking out about out-of-control government growth in terms of size, spending and authority for nearly all of my adult life, and having been a political activist for 14 years, it became clear that running for office was the best way for me to help bring about the changes we need in Massachusetts and across the nation.
Josiah Schmidt: What issues are most important to Massachusans?
Kamal Jain: The biggest issues facing Massachusetts residents are a lack of private sector jobs, especially in industries that are not heavily subsidized by government. Massachusetts is a very unfriendly state to businesses, with constantly changing rules around taxation and regulations, and a government with a very greedy hand. To make matters worse, most voters are unaware of just how truly out of control state government spending and debt are, which are what drive the high cost of doing business and living in Massachusetts.
Josiah Schmidt: What do you offer that your opponents do not?
Kamal Jain: I am the only candidate for State Auditor who has a plan and a vision for Total Transparency. I am the only candidate who will give the people the ability to see for themselves the details of all state financial transactions and contract activity. Every dollar and every dime will be online for all to see — for free. I am also the only candidate for State Auditor who has pledged to refuse to take a government pension and serve no more than two terms in office. In addition, I have pledged to give myself a 10% pay cut on my first day in office. These are things that I bring from the private sector, things that businesses must do in tough times. I bring over 21 years of business and technology expertise to the race, and am the only candidate who has the proven leadership and management skills necessary to bring Total Transparency to the people of Massachusetts.
Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?
Kamal Jain: Growing up in Framingham, Massachusetts, I heard stories from my parents about their struggle for independence from British rule in India. As I went to school and got involved in Scouts, I learned about our American ancestors’ fight for independence as well, and I fell in love with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. I carry a pocket Constitution with me every day, and I often give them out as gifts. There is great wisdom in these documents, which has been passed down by our forefathers. America truly is a great nation based on noble ideas, which has been and continues to be a gift to the world. Sadly, we have had too many politicians who neither understand nor respect that, and are busy undermining all the things which made America great. I will never stop fighting to preserve and protect America.
Josiah Schmidt: What does the job of state auditor entail?
Kamal Jain: Let’s start with what it does not entail. The State Auditor’s office is not responsible for financial audits — those are handled by the State Comptroller’s office. The State Auditor’s office is responsible for government auditing, which generally means auditing agencies and vendors to seek out waste, fraud and abuse; look for proper controls; and check compliance with laws, regulations and policies. The State Auditor also has ruling power over privatization and outsourcing of functions if a complaint or request for review is filed. Lastly, the State Auditor’s office works with cities and towns to be their advocate when it comes to dealing with unfunded or underfunded state mandates. The State Auditor is an executive role which is responsible providing leadership and vision to a department of over 300 employees, most of whom are professional, credentialed auditors, who already know how to do their jobs.
Josiah Schmidt: What is the first thing you will do as Massachusetts Auditor?
Kamal Jain: The first thing I will do is bring in volunteer experts from a variety of backgrounds to help design a transparency website for the people. The first version of such a website would be online within 6 months of me taking office, and in addition to my own extensive technology background, I already have a team of world-class experts lined up to help make this happen on a volunteer basis. The goal of the website is to give the people the tools and information they need to understand where their hard-earned money goes, and how their government is spending it. In parallel, I would commission an all-volunteer group made up primarily of private sector experts and other citizens who would become the Massachusetts equivalent of the Grace Commission. The Grace Commission was chartered in the early 1980s by President Reagan and led by J. Peter Grace, the namesake of the group. Reagan knew it would take a business leader to identify waste in the Federal government, and I know we need the same thing here in Massachusetts.
Josiah Schmidt: Which area of government spending would you most like to see cut?
Kamal Jain: I would like to see waste, fraud and abuse cut first and foremost. But that exists in varying measures across ALL government departments, agencies and functions. The government itself, even through the State Auditor’s office, is not equipped with the right incentives to truly identify all the waste, fraud and abuse. We must bring the people in to scrutinize their government.
Josiah Schmidt: Which area of the Massachusetts state government is in the most dire need of transparency and accountability?
Kamal Jain: The need for transparency and accountability runs across the entire state government. It would be inappropriate to single out specific parts of a government that is fundamentally opaque and unaccountable to anyone.
Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Kamal Jain: Please support my campaign by telling people about it, donating and encouraging others to do the same. If they are in Massachusetts, please get involved by volunteering for the campaign. Help us bring Total Transparency to Beacon Hill.
Josiah Schmidt: Where can people go to find out more about you and contribute to your campaign?
Kamal Jain: Go to MassTransparency.com to find out everything you need to know about the campaign and how to help us bring about Total Transparency. No state does this today to the level it is needed and to the level that is possible. My goal is to make Massachusetts #1 in government transparency and accountability. What we do here will be a model that can be used in other states.