By Maggie Mulvihill
New England Center for Investigative Reporting
Just days after the State Integrity Investigation found Massachusetts earns a “C” for preventing corruption in state government, a Boston judge ordered a former lawmaker and his campaign treasurer to pay fines and restitution for tens of thousands of dollars in campaign finance violations.
Former state representative Brian Wallace (pictured, right), a Democrat from South Boston, pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday to one charge of failing to report campaign contributions and one charge of failing to preserve records.
Wallace is the seventh Boston politician since 2007 to face criminal charges. The past three consecutive speakers of the state House of Representative have been found guilty of federal felonies.
By Jason Rosenbaum, special to the St. Louis Beacon
St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman knows the "sunshine law."
As a county official, Zimmerman regularly receives open records requests from citizens about tax matters. And he also dealt with such correspondence when he worked as an aide in Gov. Bob Holden’s administration.
But the law didn't apply to Zimmerman when he was a state legislator representing central St. Louis County -- although he tried unsuccessfully to change the law, which makes legislators' documents and emails off limits.
“In my judgment, that position has always been kind of nonsense,” Zimmerman said.
By Lucy Komisar
One could be forgiven for thinking that the New York State Legislature was a criminal enterprise. It had its mafioso style assemblyman, Democrat Tony Seminerio, telling a prospective "client" that he would "bury" him unless he paid off.
It had entrepreneurs like Democratic Senator Pedro Espada Jr., who set up a community health operation and, prosecutors say, looted it for millions.
It even had a comical nickel-and-dime guy, Democratic Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (pictured, right), who sent one of his staffers driving on the New York Thruway with his E-ZPass so that McLaughlin could fake time in Albany and collect per diem payments.
By Carol Goodhue Shull and Bob Shull
When members of a government board take a vote that brings them personal financial gain, that’s generally called unethical, or even illegal.
But on California’s public-employee pension board, it’s standard procedure, practically guaranteed by the makeup of the board -- and required by the state Constitution.
Gov. Jerry Brown (pictured, right), who came into office this year with pension reform as his top priority, announced a plan Oct. 27 that might be a game-changer. Although State Senate Republican leader Bob Huff introduced legislation Feb. 22 encompassing Brown’s plan, the bill faces daunting legal and political obstacles, however – the fiercest posed by public employees themselves.
Understanding how the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, (CalPERS), operates can go a long way toward devising solutions not only at home in the nation’s largest pension system, but across the country.
By Kate Golden
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Gary Goyke probably should have known better.
A former lawmaker turned career lobbyist, Goyke (pictured, right) was convicted in 1990 on four felony counts of illegal campaign contributions. But in 2009 he ran afoul of campaign finance rules once again, paying a $6,449 fine for exceeding the $10,000 annual individual limit on contributions to all Wisconsin campaigns.
“He’s been around for like 30 years. How could he have not known there was a limit?” asked Mike Buelow, research director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonpartisan campaign finance advocacy group.