Highlights of Mass. ethics reform bill
Here are highlights of an ethics reform bill unveiled by Massachusetts House and Senate leaders Wednesday. The bill would:
-- Ban all gifts to public officials, making it a civil violation for gifts up to $1,000 and a felony for gifts greater than $1,000;
-- Strengthen the Ethics Commission's authority to enforce ethics laws and prosecute alleged violations;
-- Increase penalties for bribery convictions to up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine;
-- Increase the penalty on all ethics law violations to $10,000 per violation;
-- Allow the attorney general to convene a statewide grand jury to investigate political corruption;
-- Increase the criminal penalties for violations of lobbying laws from $5,000 to $10,000;
-- Close the so-called "success fees" loophole in existing law (fees paid only when something specific, like the awarding of a contract, takes place);
-- Prohibit the use of campaign funds for payment of ethics fines;
-- Require that income derived from bribes, corrupt gifts and illegal activity count as gross income for tax purposes;
-- Prohibit the name of candidates from appearing on a state ballot if a civil action has been initiated against the person for failure to file reports or statements.
-- Give authority to the attorney general to enforce the Open Meeting Law.
Source: Massachusetts House and Senate.