Indiana Secretary of State convicted of voter fraud, barred from office

Corruption news for Indiana, from the Evansville Courier Press:

Charlie White, the man who was booted from his job as Indiana’s top elections official after being convicted of voter fraud, now has no hope of returning to the Indiana secretary of state’s office. Weeks after a jury found him guilty of six felonies, he was sentenced Thursday to one year of home detention – set to start after White (pictured, right) appeals – as well as community service and a $1,000 fine.

Hamilton County Superior Court Judge Steven Nation said White “violated the trust of the people.”

Read the rest of the story at the Evansville Courier Press.

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Maine ethics bill would close reporting loophole

Corruption news for Maine, from the Bangor Daily News:

Legislators were urged Wednesday to approve a bill submitted by Gov. Paul LePage (pictured, right) to close an ethics law loophole that has allowed high-level state officials not to report millions in state payments to organizations run by themselves or their spouses.The governor proposed the bill, L.D. 1806, shortly after publication of a Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting story that revealed that between 2003 and 2010 the state paid almost $235 million to such organizations.

“This legislation will help ensure that the citizens of Maine have a transparent and ethical government and I urge this committee to grant it a unanimous ‘ought to pass,’” said Sen. Nichi Farnham, R-Bangor.

Read the rest of the story at the Bangor Daily News.

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New York transparency advocates criticize campaign finance proposal

Corruption news for New York, from WNYC:

In a joint release, the state’s leading good government groups blasted the state’s Board of Elections over a set of draft regulations governing that they say would allow huge sums of money to be spent in elections without proper disclosure to the public of who’s behind the spending.

“The current draft applies only to spending by individuals and committees which expressly tells voters to support or oppose a candidate. Advertisements that criticize a candidate’s positions on issues a week before Election Day would fall outside of these limited parameters,” the release said.

Read the rest of the story at WNYC.

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Massachusetts cuts off state pension for convicted former lobbyist

Corruption news for Massachusetts, from the Boston Globe:

The state retirement board today voted to stop pension payments to lobbyist Richard W. McDonough, concluding “there is no credible evidence” that he was doing full-time public work during the years he was listed as the public affairs director for an agency that serves special needs students.

McDonough, once one of the state’s most powerful lobbyists, was convicted last year of corruption, along with his friend, former House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi. Inspector General Gregory Sullivan (pictured, right) found that McDonough’s position at the special education collaborative was a ruse to get him on the public payroll in order to get medical benefits and a pension.

Read the rest of the story at the Boston Globe.

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Colorado Secretary of State announces campaign finance changes

Corruption news for Colorado, from the Denver Post:

Secretary of State Scott Gessler adopted a full rewrite of Colorado's campaign finance rules Wednesday, a move critics say is outside of his authority and will allow big money to dominate elections. Gessler said the changes were long overdue and necessary to simplify the rules and to ensure they are in line with recent court decisions.

The rules are scheduled to take effect temporarily on March 7, in order to "provide clarity and guidance sooner during an election year," according to a statement from Gessler's office. They would become effectively permanently March 30, though a legal challenge is expected.

Read the rest of the story at the Denver Post.


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Former Palin aide fined for ethics violations on private e-mails

Corruption news for Alaska, from the Anchorage Daily News:

Frank Bailey, the former Sarah Palin aide turned tell-all author, has agreed to pay an $11,900 civil fine for violating the state's ethics laws by keeping, disseminating and profiting from confidential emails he obtained while serving in Palin's administration.

The Alaska attorney general's office disclosed the settlement Tuesday in a letter to ethics campaigner Andree McLeod. McLeod, a Palin critic, initiated the complaint against Bailey in September 2010 after reading about his plans for a Palin book with two co-authors in the Daily News gossip column, the Alaska Ear.

Read the rest of the story at the Anchorage Daily News.

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Washington investigates agency's no-bid contract

Corruption news for Washington, from the Bellingham Herald:

The Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises helps minority and female business owners compete for government contracts. But there was no genuine competition when the state agency needed someone to examine its operations. It paid $65,000 to a retired state administrator, John M. King, with the blessing of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office.

Investigators from State Auditor Brian Sonntag’s office looking into a complaint concluded the agency signed the no-bid contract with King Associates without giving serious consideration to potential competitors who might have been able to do the work cheaper.

Read the rest of the story at the Bellingham Herald.

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Editorial: Pennsylvania needs a stronger nepotism law

Corruption news for Pennsylvania, from the Harrisburg Patriot-News:

Consider how state government sometimes operates, such as revelations about the pre-Bonusgate days, and former House Speaker John Perzel’s employees. When the attorney general charged Perzel with wrongdoing, some staffers also were caught up in the net.

Among them was Samuel “Buzz” Stokes, who is Perzel’s brother-in-law. Stokes earned $41,418 from the Republican caucus and as the grand jury presentment states, Stokes allegedly told another GOP House staffer he needed health benefits, so Perzel (pictured, right) gave him a taxpayer-paid job.

If you spot a scandal involving public officials, you’ll often find a layer of nepotism on top.

Read the rest of the story at the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

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Maryland Senate Majority Leader, opponent rake in lobbyist donations

Corruption news for Maryland, from the Maryland Reporter:

Calls for an ethics probe into Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola’s (pictured, right) campaign contributions from State House lobbyists by 6th District primary challenger John Delaney will likely go unanswered unless a formal complaint is filed, according to Legislative Ethics Committee Counsel William Somerville.

“While reasonable people can see a conflict of interest, and Lord knows that it’s one of the situations that causes concern on all levels of government – the influence of campaign contributions – it is not something that the Maryland Ethics Law restricts in any way,” Somerville said in an interview.

Read the rest of the story at the Maryland Reporter.


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California bill with bipartisan support would increase campaign finance disclosure

Corruption news for California, from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Supporters of state legislation to require more prominent disclosure of political donations in advertisements are hoping that a bipartisan approach will bolster their chances of passage in the Legislature. Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, on Monday announced a new version of the legislation in downtown San Diego a month after a similar bill failed to garner the two-thirds supermajority needed to modify the Political Reform Act.

Assembly Bill 1648, which was introduced last week, would require political advertisements to identify their top three contributors of $10,000 or more along with providing a website where voters would be able to obtain more information about an ad’s 10 largest backers.

Read the rest of the story at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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