Corruption news for Tennessee, from The Tennesseean:
Rep. Philip Johnson, R-Pegram, has filed a bill that would make it easier for lobbyists to target lawmakers whose vote they need with invitations to fancy parties soaked with fine liquor and piled high with shrimp. The current law allows lobbyists to host receptions, providing all 132 state lawmakers are invited. The proposed change would allow lobbyists to host parties for individuals on important legislative committees, targeting their votes one on one.
Critics of the legislation say it is a clear step backward.
Read the rest of the story at The Tennessean.
Corruption news for Wisconsin, from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
As legislative leaders secretly developed new election maps last year to strengthen their majority, Republican lawmakers were told to ignore public comments and instead focus on what was said in private strategy sessions, according to a GOP memo that became public Monday.Other newly released documents also show almost all Republican lawmakers signed legal agreements promising not to discuss the new maps while they were being developed.
GOP lawmakers fought releasing these new documents and testifying about the maps in a pending court case but relented after a panel of three federal judges based in Milwaukee last month found they had filed frivolous motions in trying to shield the information from the public.
Read the rest of the story at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Corruption news for Washington, from the Kistap Sun:
In 1972, Washington voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 276, which resulted in creation of the state's Public Disclosure Act, a sweeping "sunshine" law that codified the public's right to know about its government.
Again this year, the Legislature is trying to "amend" that right by placing limitations on it. They do it almost every session. Why? Because somehow, they decide that accommodating the public's right to know is too inconvenient, or too costly, or just too ... bothersome.
Read the rest of the story at the Kitsap Sun.
Corruption news for Mississippi, from the Clarion-Ledger:
A Rankin County lawmaker in his second term in office has been ordered to repay the state $346,554 from public printing contracts that went to his family business and pay a $50,000 fine for the dealings.Rep. Kevin McGee (pictured, right), a Republican from Brandon, owns Service Printers of Flowood, along with family members.
After receiving a complaint from an anonymous source, the state Ethics Commission ruled there is "clear and convincing evidence" that 258 contracts between state agencies and Service Printers violated state ethics laws. State law prohibits legislators from doing business with state government because the Legislature dictates how the state's money is spent through appropriations.
Read the rest of the story at the Clarion-Ledger.
Corruption news for Delaware, from the News Journal:
Flawed policies at Delaware State University led to millions of dollars in no-bid building contracts and the risk of collusion with vendors, an investigation by the state's Auditor of Accounts has found.The report auditor R. Thomas Wagner Jr. issued Thursday shows DSU officials repeatedly violated state bidding laws in awarding contracts worth more than $2 million to certain companies without checking whether another vendor could do the work for less.
Auditors investigated -- but could not substantiate -- allegations that DSU employees secured the contracts in exchange for kickbacks from vendors. The auditor's office subpoenaed the bank records of several DSU employees and forwarded information obtained during the investigation to the Attorney General's office.
Read the rest of the story at the News Journal.
Corruption news for Kansas, from ABC News:
A local prosecutor is warning Kansas legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback to preserve records and electronic files about gatherings at his official residence as "potentially relevant evidence" in an investigation into complaints that the sessions violated the state's open meetings law.
Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor sent a letter to all 40 state senators and all 125 House members, directing them to preserve not only their records, electronic files and "tangible items," but the same materials for their staffs. Taylor said Thursday night that he also sent it to Brownback's office, his secretary of administration and the administration's information technology director.
Read the rest of the story at ABC News.
Corruption news for Maine, from the Journal Tribune:
The Maine Attorney General’s Office is poised to bring criminal charges against former Maine House Rep. David Burns, R-Alfred, in the wake of findings by the state ethics commission that he violated Maine campaign finance laws.
This past November, Burns (pictured, right) was found guilty by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices of violating eight Maine election finance laws, including falsifying records, misusing Clean Elections Act funds, making false statements, illegally mingling MCEA funds with personal funds, using funds not related to his campaign, mis-reporting expenditures, using campaign funds for personal use and using MCEA funds to pay for goods received prior to his certification as a MCEA candidate.
Read the rest of the story at the Journal Tribune.
Corruption news for Utah, from the Salt Lake Tribune:
Two years ago, one of every eight Utah legislators technically violated an ethics rule by missing a deadline to complete online ethics training. Even worse, two of every five lobbyists also missed the deadline.
In 2011, only one state legislator missed the Dec. 31 deadline — Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield, according to records obtained through an open-records law request by The Salt Lake Tribune. Joe Pyrah, chief of staff to House Speaker Becky Lockhart, said McIff finished the training a few days later. Lobbyists did even better than lawmakers — all 428 lobbyists registered with the state at the end of the year had completed the training.
Read the rest of the story at the Salt Lake Tribune.
Corruption news for Georgia, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
The Most Intriguing Bill of the Day award goes to HB 822, a hand-crafted, bipartisan bill that would give informers a financial incentive to rat out government fraud, whether in the state Medicaid program or in your local city hall.
Penalties would be “a civil penalty of not less than $5,500 and not more than $11,000 for each false statement or fraudulent claim, plus three times the amount of damages which the state or local government sustains.” Plus attorney fees. A private citizen – presumably not part of the fraud — can file an action, and if successful would “receive at least 15 percent but not more than 25 percent of the proceeds of the civil action or settlement of the claim.”
Read the rest of the story at the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Corruption news for Kentucky, from the Lexington Herald-Leader:
State Sen. Damon Thayer, who is expected to file a casino gambling bill in coming days that could bring big bucks to Kentucky's horse industry, collected at least $208,835 in consulting fees from the industry during 2010 and part of 2011, according to court records. Thayer (pictured, right) declined Monday to identify his clients or explain whether they would gain financially from casino gambling. His annual financial disclosure statement at the Legislative Ethics Commission does not require him to name his clients, he said.
"I'll have to think about it," Thayer said.
Read the rest of the story at the Lexington Herald-Leader.