OPINION | Barry Richard: Corruption Under The Dome
The latest scandal involves former Milton State Senator Brian Joyce, a Democrat who since leaving the legislature while under FBI investigation last year, now resides in Westport. His law offices in Canton were raided by the FBI and IRS in February 2016.
Joyce was once a senior member of now former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg's team. Prior to his decision to bow out of the legislature, Joyce was assistant majority leader and chairman of Bills in Third Reading Committee.
Joyce faces 113 counts including racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. The indictment alleges that Joyce secretly profited from his elected position, accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for his "official action" in the Senate and putting pressure on state and local officials.
Acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb stated the following;
"The indictment alleges that Mr. Joyce ran his Senate office as a criminal enterprise. It alleges that he took official acts and pressured and advised others to take official acts on behalf of business cronies and in exchange received bribes and kickbacks. It also alleges that he took steps to mislead the ... Ethics Commission and the public about the true nature of his activities and that he laundered the illegal proceeds from those activities in a variety of ways."
But wait, there may be more scum still floating in the swamp according to Weinreb;
"The investigation is ongoing. This is not necessarily the end of it."
The Joyce indictment caps a year that began with lawmakers ballooning their own paychecks. It follows by weeks the sexual misconduct allegations against Rosenberg's husband Bryon Hefner, which led to Rosenberg surrendering the presidency. The Senate Ethics Committee is now looking into whether Rosenberg was peddling influence on Hefner's behalf.
The Democrat party has maintained a grip on power at most levels of government in Massachusetts for far too long. The ensuing power has indeed corrupted the system which is in desperate need of reform and new leadership.
Last week Republican Fitchburg City Councilor Dean Tran won a stunning special election upset over Democrat Leominster City Councilor Sue Chalifoux Zephir to flip a state senate seat that had been held by Democrats. Tran becomes the first Vietnamese-American elected to the Massachusetts Legislature.
Could this be a sign that voters have finally had enough of the corruption that continues to fester in Massachusetts government? Only time will tell.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.