Cancer-stricken Tennessee state employee sues state

Corruption news for Tennessee, from The Tennesseean:

A longtime state employee who has been diagnosed with cancer has filed suit charging that top officials in Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration illegally terminated him in violation of some of the same civil service laws and rules the governor is seeking to abolish. William B. Wood, 54, of Nashville has charged that he was terminated without cause or notice just six months before he would have become eligible for retirement health insurance. His suit, filed in Davidson County Chancery Court, states that Wood currently is unable to get coverage or treatment for his cancer.

The suit charges that Wood’s job, as an attorney and workers’ compensation specialist, was improperly classified as “executive service” and that he was improperly denied the right to challenge his dismissal.

Read the rest of the story at The Tennesseean.

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Opinion: New Hampshire government "dominated by lobbyists"

Corruption news for New Hampshire, from the Concord Monitor:

New Hampshire state government is dominated by lobbyists and a lobbying culture. When I was a state representative in 1977-78, there were only a handful of registered lobbyists. Today, more than 250 individuals represent more than 400 organizations and companies, and many of them have political action committees that fund candidates for state office.

But when legislation has been introduced to expand lobbyist transparency and to cover their activities in state government, who do you think has lobbied against it? You got it.

Read the rest of the story at the Concord Monitor.

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Scandal leads to ethics reform plans in Maryland

Corruption news for Maryland, from the Washington Post:

With the censure of Maryland Sen. Ulysses Currie still reverberating around the State House, lawmakers are nearing decisions on ethics reforms they hope will prevent another scandal like the one that enveloped Currie, the state’s longtime budget committee chairman.

The Senate’s decision to censure Currie appeared to be an acknowledgment that his actions were only a shade worse than the conflicts of interest routinely confronted by other part-time lawmakers. The changes under consideration — which were the subject of hearings Friday by an ethics task force and an ethics committee — would permit such conflicts to continue but would make them more transparent.

Read the rest of the story at the Washington Post.

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Legislator: Washington budget avoided transparency with secret deals

Corruption news for Washington, from The Herald:

In a matter of hours, a Democratic budget proposal that took months to write and was put through the wringer of public scrutiny was supplanted with a Republican budget proposal that was crafted through handshakes and back slaps — and voted off the floor without so much as a public hearing or public notice.

This Republican budget and the parliamentary games and political deals that pushed it to passage with a slim one-vote majority represent democracy at its most hollow. It is these types of schemes that cynics point to when they question the motives and ability of their elected officials.

Read the rest of the story at The Herald.


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Illinois ethics plan would reveal family connections between legislators, lobbyists

Corruption news for Illinois, from the Register-Mail:

Do state lawmakers owe it to the public to be up front about it when their family members start lobbying in the Capitol for legislation? That’s the objective behind a pair of measures state Sen. Darin LaHood introduced in the Legislature last month that are slated to be considered next week.

The Dunlap Republican’s bills would make it a requirement that lawmakers and lobbyists each independently declare ties of blood or marriage that link them to the other group. “The public should be aware that a lobbyist who is seeking a favor ... is related” to someone serving in the Legislature, he said.

Read the rest of the story at the Register-Mail.

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Florida budget includes road project that would benefit state senator

Corruption news for Florida, from the Tampa Bay Times:

JD Alexander is close to getting the university he has wanted for Polk County.He might be getting part of the road he has wished for, too. Despite a $1.4 billion budget shortfall and at times heated rhetoric about finding ways to spend fewer state dollars, budget writers have tucked $34.7 million into this year's proposed spending plan for the design of a portion of the Heartland Parkway — a long-dormant road project in Central Florida.

Alexander (pictured, right), a businessman worth more than $10 million and whose company owns a large ranch that could benefit if the entire road gets built, has advocated for the parkway in the past. As the Senate budget chairman, he holds huge sway in how every state dollar is spent.

Read the rest of the story at the Tampa Bay Times.

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Prosecutors want jail time for Delaware businessman for campaign finance crimes

Corruption news for Delaware, from the Coshocton Tribune:

A Delaware businessman who pleaded guilty in an illegal campaign finance scheme is trying to minimize the seriousness of his crimes as he seeks a sentence of home confinement, according to federal prosecutors. In a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday in federal court in Wilmington, prosecutors said a prison sentence of at least 25 months for Christopher Tigani would send a message that engaging in political corruption has serious consequences.

He pleaded guilty in June to using his family's alcoholic beverage distributorship to make illegal campaign contributions to state and federal candidates. Court records suggest that some of those contributions went to Vice President Joe Biden during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Read the rest of the story at the Coshocton Tribune.

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Lawyers: University of Minnesota regent's Republican Party job creates conflict of interest

Corruption news for Minnesota, from the Star Tribune:

Two legal opinions released by the University of Minnesota on Wednesday find that Steve Sviggum's (pictured, right) job with the state Senate GOP caucus creates an "unresolvable, systemic clash of duties" with his unpaid spot on the Board of Regents.

"This systemic conflict cannot be eliminated, managed or cured," wrote John Stout, of the Minneapolis firm Fredrikson & Byron. "The public's confidence, the integrity of the Board and the protection of the University's public mission require that Regent Sviggum relinquish one of the two positions he currently holds."

Read the rest of the story at the Star Tribune.

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North Carolina speaker accused of pay-for-play

Corruption news for North Carolina, from the News Observer:

A spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis (pictured, right) is rejecting a campaign finance reform group's suggestions that political donations look like they correlate with legislation that narrowly passed his chamber months earlier.Democracy North Carolina questioned Tuesday about $21,000 from donors and political action committees related to the consumer finance industry and given to Tillis' campaign committee in October.

The House approved in June a bill that would let installment loan companies lend more money per individual and charge higher interest rates on higher balances.

Read the rest of the story at the News Observer.

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Iowa auditor: Budget proposals lacking transparency

Corruption news for Iowa, from the Des Moines Register:

Republicans and Democrats alike are guilty of budget games that either hide true spending or with unreasonable budget expectations, Iowa Auditor David Vaudt (pictured, right) said today.

“There is a big difference between openness and transparency,” Vaudt, a Republican, said in his review of budget targets from both parties. “You can have all kinds of openness but if you give people all kinds of information they can’t interpret, it doesn’t help. You have to be transparent in how you present that information and that’s what I’ve really been focusing on.”

Read the rest of the story at the Des Moines Register.

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