Deval Patrick overhauls ethics rules to restore ‘trust’

Gov. Deval Patrick unveiled tough, comprehensive ethics reforms yesterday aimed at restoring eroding public confidence after a scandal-ridden year on Beacon Hill.

 

The stiffer rules - which include allowing state investigators to use wiretaps in corruption probes and a 10-year prison sentence for violations - come after two senators resigned in disgrace and embattled House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi continues to face ethics investigations.

 

“No one can legislate morality, we know that. But we can do our best to assure ourselves and the public that the consequences for breaching the public trust will be serious, swift and certain,” Patrick said.

 

The recommendations also would give the secretary of state subpoena powers on lobbyists’ and political campaign records, and allow the attorney general to convene special statewide grand juries on corruption, as well as the authority to seek warrants to wiretap suspected corrupt pols.

 

Patrick called on lawmakers to pass the recommendations before Feb. 7. The updates focus on giving authorities such as the state ethics commission a greater ability to enforce ethics laws, stiffer penalties for those who break them and provide more frequent education on the statutes themselves.

 

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