OPINION | Barry Richard: More Beacon Hill Corruption
The corruption that exists in Massachusetts government is astounding.
FOX 25 Boston has discovered that at least two dozen Massachusetts lawmakers, including two from our area delegation, continued to pad their pockets with per diem travel perks weeks after those perks had been discontinued. Those with guts enough to respond when caught claimed they didn't know the benefit had expired, even though they wrote the law that changed the rules and then voted for it.
You may recall that back in January, a month after Governor Charlie Baker gave the legislative and executive branches a 4.2 percent pay raise, lawmakers rushed through a sharp increase in their stipend compensation. Some, like our dear Senator Mark Montigny saw his check swell by a handsome 79% or $65,315 dollars. The rest of the delegation settled for a tawdry 30% increase. In exchange, the representatives and senators agreed to give up their per diem travel benefits.
Per diem travel benefits is money you paid to cover the cost of your elected officials traveling back and forth to work each day. Some were getting as much as $100 per day.
At least two dozen, including Senator Mike Rodriques (D-Westport) and Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham), continued to claim per diem expenses when they were supposed to stop.
What is equally scandalous is that State Treasurer Deb Goldberg kept cutting the checks completely oblivious to the fact that they were not supposed to be getting paid per diem any longer. Goldberg told Fox 25 News no one in her office verifies their claims;
"We issue a check. It's an honor system."
Rodrigues tells Fox 25 News it was all a misunderstanding;
"After reviewing my records, I realized that the per diem items for travel after January 4, 2017 were inappropriate. I will be in immediate contact with the Treasurer's Office and will work with them to reimburse the Commonwealth for those items."
In all, Goldberg paid out more than $8,000 dollars for per diem benefits that no longer existed. And that's not all. Fox 25 says some lawmakers claimed the non-existent per diem benefits for days they didn't even show up to work. AND GOLDBERG STILL CUT THEM A CHECK!
Massachusetts government is a cesspool that needs to be drained. What's sad is that we have so few choices at election time and voters have been reluctant to break the one party domination that allows this stink fest to continue to fester.
I, for one, am counting down the days until I can retire and move the hell away from here.
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.