Corruption Risk Report Card
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Massachusetts passed a strong ethics reform law in 2009, but a culture of secrecy undermines public confidence in government. Read more from SII State Reporters Maggie Mulvihill, Matt Porter, and Kirsten Berg.
State Integrity News from SII partner New England Center for Investigative Reporting:
Deep flaws in Massachusetts laws constructed to keep government honest have sustained a recurring parade of criminal and ethical misconduct charges involving public servants in the past five years, a study by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting shows.
Massachusetts earned a “C” grade earlier this year in a national State Integrity scorecard released by the Center for Public Integrity. Among its lowest scores were an “F” for the transparency of the state budget process and public access to information, a “D+” for legislative accountability and a “C-” for the effectiveness of the state Ethics Commission. Judicial accountability earned a “C+ in Massachusetts.
Read more from NECIR.
State Integrity news for Massachusetts from SII partner WBUR:
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has issued a ruling that sets an important standard on how judges are judged.
The high court says that while holding judges accountable is essential, judges have certain protections. Specifically the court says judges do not have to disclose to investigators what they were thinking when they made a ruling, and that the notes a judge makes while on the bench are for the judge only.
The ruling comes as a national survey gives Massachusetts a C+ grade for how it holds judges accountable.
Read and hear more from WBUR - Boston.
State Integrity news for Massachusetts from SII partner WGBH:
Gov. Deval Patrick is at the center of a fight over government parking records.
Patrick has refused to release the records to the Boston Herald, citing security and privacy concerns. The newspaper alleges it's part of a pattern of secrecy in Patrick's office. The governor's office says he and his administration, "are extremely accessible to the public and the press on a regular basis."
Read and hear more from WGBH - Boston.
By Caitlin Ginley
Early last month, lawmakers in Iowa completed work on a new open records statute. Senate File 430 creates the Iowa Public Information Board, a nine-member commission charged with enforcing the state’s open records and meetings laws.
For good government advocates in the Hawkeye State, the new legislation was cause for celebration — sort of.
Indeed, there were smiles all around as Gov. Terry Branstad signed the law on May 3 in the ornate Capitol Building, surrounded by lawmakers and journalists — many of whom spent six years on the effort. And the law is undoubtedly a victory of sorts for open government in the state, where enforcement was spotty at best, divided among several local and state entities. If a citizen’s request for information was denied, the only option was to sue — a time-consuming and costly course of action. Now, the Board can investigate complaints and bring them to court on citizens’ behalf.
It all sounds good — except for the fine print.
State integrity news for Massachusetts, from the Boston Globe:
Through a nonprofit established by his administration last year called Moving Massachusetts Forward, the Patrick administration collected $130,000 from five donors, according to ethics disclosure forms filed by the governor. Unlike campaign donations, contributions to the group have no limits and are tax-free.
Critics say that while donations to Patrick’s nonprofit are legal and were publicly disclosed, the state would be better off paying the full expense of the trade missions to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Read the rest of the story at the Boston Globe.