Dems in disarray
The Democratic state auditor is asking the Democratic attorney general for permission to sue the Democratic super-majority Massachusetts Legislature.
Who says summers are slow on Beacon Hill?
State Auditor Diana DiZoglio has renewed her battle of wills with House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka over whether her office has the right to look over the General Court’s ledgers and business practices.
And, because under state law she needs approval to sue another state agency, she has placed Attorney General Andrea Campbell smack in the middle of a long-festering feud.
And hiked the tension to 11.
A 10-year veteran lawmaker who served in each branch, she announced her intentions in March. At a press conference Wednesday she declared it was time to move forward:
“Unfortunately [my office’s] requests to work alongside our office have been dismissed, ignored at times, and essentially rejected. So it is incredibly unfortunate that we are at the place where we need to pursue legal action of any kind.”
Few outside legislative lifers will dispute the House and Senate operate as black holes — thousands of bills are offered each two-year session and what happens is largely shrouded from public view.
And it’s only gotten worse, with a state budget now 27 days late and members feuding with each other over which committee has the authority over proposed gun regulations. In the meantime, only 23 bills, mostly minor, have been enacted and signed into law after almost seven months.
DiZoglio was a maverick member of each branch and ran for auditor on a platform that centered on institutions that, like her office, have constitutionally defined roles.
And by one reading of the state’s operating manual, including that of former Auditor Suzanne Bump, DiZoglio is entering territory where she has no authority. Mariano and Spilka obviouly agree.
DiZoglio offered Campbell a 19-page memo citing at least 113 audits of the Legislature between 1850 and 2006 as precedent. So far, it’s unclear what those were for or what was found.
What’s likely the center of contention is DiZoglio’s insistence she has the authority to not only review hiring and spending but also how each branch appoints committees, adopts or suspends rules, and other policies and procedures.
Ultimately it’s a question that can only be resolved by the Supreme Judicial Court. Campbell is now faced with the question of whether her office represents one side of the dispute, names a special prosecutor or tells DiZoglio either she can’t sue the Legislature or she has to hire her own outside attorney.
Meanwhile, the Beacon Hill slow zone inches forward.