Governor Responds to Corruption Risk Investigation

By Sarah Birnbaum

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Mar. 20, 2012

BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is responding to a nationwide report on corruption that looked at all branches of state government, and examined our laws and their effectiveness. The result: the State Integrity Index, measuring not actual corruption…but the risk of corruption. Massachusetts received a C grade, good for 10th best in the nation. See the report card.
 
On the State Integrity Report Card, the Massachusetts executive branch, which includes the Governor's office, ranked 15th out of 50 on accountability. The branch got a failing grade on two of its five items but earned a 77 (C-plus) overall.
 
Patrick said his office goes above and beyond the law when it comes to transparency.
 
“We have, I think, shown an unprecedented level of cooperation in terms of access to information and documents well beyond what the law requires,” he said.
 
The law doesn’t hold the governor to the same standard of accountability as other public officials. The courts have ruled that the governor is exempt from the Public Records Law. Patrick isn’t calling for that to change.
 
Even so, he said his office tries to comply with most records requests — but because of short staffing and budget cuts, staff can't always produce information as quickly as people would like.
 
“We’ve cut staff in my office like everywhere else and we’re doing our best to be as responsive as we can,” he said.
 
But veteran state house reporter and Boston Globe State House bureau chief Frank Phillips said Patrick is like other governors before him:
 
"They always promise to be tremendously transparent but when you actually ask for those telephone records, or those emails they’ve been sending … it’s not always easy. And they find ways to get around it,” he said.
 
> > YOUR TAKE: What grade do you think we deserve?
 



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