Gov. pushes ethics reform

Gov. Deval Patrick will file legislation today calling for massive reform of the state’s ethics and lobbying laws, a response to a string of alleged illegalities on the part of several elected officials.

The bill will include recommendations released yesterday from a public integrity task force that Patrick formed in November. Among the recommendations are an increase in penalties for bribery — the charge hanging over former State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and City Councilor Chuck Turner — and stricter lobbying laws.


The bill also seeks to expand enforcement authority for the Secretary of State and Attorney General, and would allow conversations in public corruption investigations to be taped, an ordinance currently limited to cases of organized crime.


“Thanks to several recent serious charges of misconduct, our citizens are questioning the integrity of their government,” Patrick said.


Wilkerson and Turner were allegedly caught on tape taking bribes to help a Roxbury nightclub obtain a liquor license. Attorney General Martha Coakley handed down indictments last month charging a cohort of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi with violating lobbying laws and communicating with DiMasi in the process.


DiMasi remains under investigation by the State Ethics Commission.


Patrick expects lawmakers to move quickly on the bill.


“Swift movement on this legislation will show how serious we are about restoring our citizens’ confidence in their government,” said Patrick, who formed the 13-member task force shortly after Wilkerson was arrested Oct. 28.

Date: 1/7/2009 12:00:00 AM