Corruption news for Indiana, frrom the Hoosier State Press Association:
The new Indiana public access counselor has added another link to a chain of opinions that severely limits the public’s ability to review email exchanges of government officials and employees.
The first section of the Access to Public Records Act says the statute “shall be liberally construed to implement this policy and place the burden of proof for the nondisclosure of a public record on the public agency that would deny access to the record and not on the person seeking to inspect and copy the record.
Heather Neal’s 2009 opinion, followed by the next PAC, Andrew Kossack (pictured, right), and current PAC Joe Hoage, deviates from that philosophy by crimping the public’s ability to investigate what public officials are doing.
Read the rest of the story at the Hoosier State Press Association.
Corruption news for Florida, from the Miami Herald:
The House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee signed off on a bill that would give [Gov. Rick Scott, pictured, right] additional oversight of 24 regional workforce boards, saying reports of lavish and questionable spending at some of the boards demonstrated a need for more state control.
In January 2010, the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance president resigned after the state inspector general reported more than $24,000 in unapproved spending and more than $81,000 in questionable expenses that required further documentation, according to a St. Petersburg Times report. Then in July 2010, the paper reported that the Pasco Hernando workforce board used $6,000 in state funding to pay for employee massages.
Read the rest of the story at the Miami Herald.
Corruption news for New York, from WNYC:
Add another New York City elected official to the growing list of corruption-related activities. An aide [to Senator Shirley Huntley, pictured, right] a person who “shares a residence with the senator” and two others were indicted by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today.
Patricia D. Savage, the president of the non-profit Parent Workshop, Inc. and an aide to Huntley’s, and Lynn H. Smith, the organization’s treasurer and house guest/roommate/something else of Huntley’s, are accused of diverting approximately $29,950 in tax payer funds from the non-profit and in to their pockets.
Two other individuals, David R. Gantt and Roger N. Scotland, are accused of “falsifying documents to cover up the theft once the investigation commenced,” according to a statement from the AG’s office.
Read the rest of the story at WNYC.
Corruption news for South Carolina, from CBS affiliate WSPA 7:
A bill prefiled in the South Carolina Senate would offer state employees and citizens a financial reason to report fraud, corruption and waste in state government: a percentage of the money recovered.
"We're taking it straight to the citizens of this state to give them the right to file actions themselves when they see waste, fraud and outright abuse of their tax dollars," says Sen. Vincent Sheheen (pictured, right), D-Camden, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, along with Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Hartsville, and Sen. Jake Knotts, R-West Columbia.
The bill also offers whistleblowers greater protection. "The possibilities of demotion, intimidation or employment termination have been factors in preventing our employees and our people from reporting corruption and fraud," Sen. Knotts says.
Read the rest of the story at CBS affiliate WSPA 7.
Corruption news for Pennsylvania, from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Pennsylvania's state-administered student lender agreed to pay more than $12 million to end an IRS investigation into tax law violations.
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency disclosed the settlement in its most recent quarterly financial report and in a letter to bond dealers and brokers dated Nov. 17.
"Once again, PHEAA receives failing grades for fiscal oversight and common sense," said Eric Epstein (pictured, right), founder of the government reform advocacy group Rock the Capitol. "It is hard to imagine how this settlement makes college education more accessible to students."
Read the rest of the story at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Corruption news for Illinois, from WBEZ:
Rod Blagojevich has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.
“Every governor, even our worst, helped someone and does good things for people," federal Judge James Zagel said to the former Illinois governor. “The harm [of your crimes] is the erosion of public trust in government”
Zagel issued the sentence just over an hour after Blagojevich pleaded for mercy, and apologized profusely for his actions.
“I thought they were permissible and I was mistaken. The jury convicted me. Those were my actions. Those were things that I said, ” Blagojevich told Zagel, in a soft, though not shy, voice. “I caused it all."
Read the rest of the story at WBEZ.
Corruption news for Texas, from U.S. News & World Report:
Time and again, Texas Gov. Rick Perry picked up his office phone in the months before he would announce his bid for the presidency. He dialed wealthy friends who were his big fundraisers and state officials who owed him for their jobs.Perry also met with a Texas executive who would later co-found an independent political committee that has promised to raise millions to support Perry but is prohibited from coordinating its activities with the governor.
An Associated Press review of Perry's phone records and daily public schedules reveals a chronology — at times, minute by minute — of the governor's meetings before his campaign launch. Texas state ethics rules prohibit use of state phones for campaign purposes.
Read the rest of the story at U.S. News & World Report.
Corruption news for Massachusetts, from the Boston Globe:
Tens of thousands of e-mails authored or received by Cabinet secretaries in the last three Republican gubernatorial administrations were automatically wiped off state computers after the officials left office, destroying a huge trove of public records about major decisions of state government.
Computer systems erased the e-mails from the administrations of Acting Governor Jane Swift and Governors Paul Cellucci and Mitt Romney (pictured, right) because state officials did not store the contents of their accounts by backing them up on central computers, according to state officials. In the case of the Romney administration, the automatic deletions occurred despite state guidelines that were updated in 2004 that require certain electronic records be preserved.
Read the rest of the story at the Boston Globe.
Corruption news for New Jersey, from NJ.com:
Organized crime has re-established a foothold in New Jersey’s garbage and recycling industry, and the departments charged with regulating the businesses are failing to keep up, according to a report issued today by the state.The findings, uncovered by the State Commission of Investigation, showed that more than 30 people tied to the mob or other criminal elements that were banned from the industry in New York are currently working in the Garden State.
The report recommends the Legislature and Gov. Chris Christie (pictured, right) improve the law by expanding the use of background checks for employees involved in the garbage industry, and to require them for those working in the recycling industry.
Read the rest of the story at NJ.com.
Corruption news for Maryland, from the Maryland Reporter:
When auditors delved deeper into the way contracts are handled for construction inspection services by the State Highway Administration, their fears of rampant, systemic problems in the agency came true.
“It was surprising and disappointing,” said Legislative Auditor Bruce Myers.
The 21-page audit detailing the problems – which Myers characterized as seeming to come from people with no appreciation for state procurement law – was released by the Office of Legislative Audits on Friday. This report is a follow-up to a July audit that detailed potentially criminal, ethical and contracting violations in the State Highway Administration’s Office of Construction.
Read the rest of the story at the Maryland Reporter.