Wall-of-Shame Entry: “Taxes” L’Italien – She’s Back!! (Twilight Zone)

After having a new position personally created for her as a consolation prize for her 2010 defeat, she must miss all the political contributions and spending accounts, staff and servants…

As published in the Eagle Tribune May 2012:

Meaningful Ethics Reform Starts with the Candidates Running

Barbara L’Italien’s candidacy for State Representative should make any good government advocate feel like they just took a late round sucker punch right in the stomach. Despite the rhetoric you may hear, there is a serious ethics problem in state government.

 

A national study recently reviewed all 50 states and graded Massachusetts with an “F” on transparency in state government.

 

Governor Patrick and Lt Governor Murray refused to disclose their cell phone records to the Boston Globe and Herald. The Probation Department is under scrutiny for hiring former political friends to high paying jobs. Former Treasurer Cahill is facing charges from the Attorney General for using taxpayer funds to promote his candidacy.  Numerous Boston based non-profits are receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer money only to pay for high rent costs and bloated salaries. This only skims at the surface, deeper below is a much more troubling problem. Public information and reform are hard to come by.

 

Unlike other states, elected officials may meet behind closed doors and decide major economic issues. These meetings are held in the Statehouse, a public building, without the press or public permitted to enter. The Governor, leaders in the Legislature and Statewide elected officials all participate in these secret meetings, without any oversight from the public.

 

If you are a civic minded resident and want basic information from your state government, a request may be made. Unlike other states, here in Massachusetts, these public record requests are billed to the individual taxpayer. This tactic is used to deter good government advocates from uncovering fraud and abuse within state government. It’s a ploy to keep the public in the shadow and keep information out of sunlight.

 

How does this apply to Ms. L’Italien? For starters, she took a $100,000 position working for State Treasurer Grossman only days after her defeat in 2010. When recently asked if she would run again, she denied the rumors. Days later, she pulled papers to run. Since then, Ms. L’Italien remained on the state payroll earning $100,000 while collected petition signatures and planning her run for public office.

 

While not illegal, one has to ask if it’s ethical for Ms. L’Italien to resurrect her political career while enjoying the patronage position that costs taxpayers $100,000 a year. The federal government has prohibitions on such activities; it’s called the Hatch Act.

 

This also raises other important questions for Ms. L’Italien; did she solicit political contributions while working a taxpayer funded job in the Treasurer’s office? Does her two years in the Treasurer’s office boost her state pension since she is earning considerably more now than as a State Representative? Can the public request copies of her email, travel schedule and meetings while she worked for the Treasurer without being charged an arm and a leg? If she is unsuccessful again in 2012, will her $100,000 a year taxpayer funded position be waiting for her in the Treasurer’s office?

 

As predicted by the editorial page of the Eagle Tribune on November 19, 2010, they warned readers that Ms. L’Italien would run again. The editorial page described her as, “the arrogance, the sense of entitlement, is quite overwhelming. It’s what happens when politicians lose sight of their role as citizen legislators and seek instead to serve themselves… The naive might imagine that voters of the 18th Essex sent L’Italien to Beacon Hill to represent their interests. What rot! L’Italien was there to invest in her own political future.”

 

Ms. L’Italien was sent into retirement in 2010, the voters wanted change. Since then, she’s enjoyed a plush state job paying her $100,000 a year. She plotted her political comeback while working for the state, in a position some would argue was a patronage job. For those who want to see ethics reform and support Ms. L’Italien’s latest run for public office, is as ridiculous as NASA claiming they couldn’t land on the moon but now they attempting to land on Mars.

 

Paul D. Craney is the executive director of Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.

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