State Senator Brian Joyce, one of the most powerful lawmakers in Massachusetts, could be facing an ethics investigation.
Necn has learned that Sen. Joyce (D-Milton) sent a letter to Senate President Stan Rosenberg just a short while ago saying he's happy to cooperate with any state ethics commission investigation and he's willing to step down from his leadership position if he's asked.
"Shocked, angry and disgusted," Joyce told necn in 2008 when he was responding to allegations that his Senate colleague, Dianne Wilkerson, had accepted bribes.
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"One way or another, she's gone, and she has brought shame and disgrace to the entire Massachusetts Senate," Joyce said in 2008.
Joyce's outrage made it clear he felt that senators should be held to the highest standard and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
Now the tables have been turned, and it is Joyce whose ethics are being questioned.
The allegations are not bribery, but potential conflicts of interest and violations of campaign finance laws.
The Boston Globe reports that Joyce, for example, did not disclose that he represents Energy, a company that sells insurance to businesses in the energy sector, while also sponsoring a bill supported by Energy and serving on the committee that oversees the energy industry.
"And then having a graduation party for your son and then using campaign finance funds, that's another problem," Pam Wilmot of Common Cause Massachusetts said.
Wilmot calls the allegations quite serious, since ethics laws prevent elected officials from going to agencies on behalf of their paying clients and advocating for them.
"That's why we've called for an investigation. I believe the ethics commission will take a very close look at this," she said.
Voicing concerns, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) says the Senate has to determine if something has happened that violates the rules or the law - or both - which he says would involve either the Senate Ethics Committee or the state's Ethics Commission.
"Perhaps it would be the right thing for him to ask them also to be involved, so that it's clear he's not trying to hide anything or to avoid anything," Tarr said.
Late Friday afternoon, Senate President Rosenberg sent a letter to all members of the Senate saying that he has filed a formal request asking the state Ethics Commission to review the allegations against Joyce. He has also asked Joyce to voluntarily step down from his leadership positions until the matter is resolved.