Senate’s budget puts a limit of investigative funding for potential corruption casesThe board that investigates government corruption might have lost some of its independence in the Senate’s version of the new state budget.
The board that investigates government corruption might have lost some of its independence in the Senate’s version of the new state budget.
The Government Accountability Board was created in 2007 in the wake of the State Capitol’s illegal campaigning scandal and it was given unlimited funds to investigate ethics and elections complaints.
But now, the budget passed by the Senate last night includes a spending limit of $31,000 a year on investigations. And if they need more, they’d have to go to the Legislature to get it.
Board director Kevin Kennedy says it could put lawmakers in a position to cut off funds to investigate corruption they might be committing themselves.
He says independence is vital for the accountability board, and legislative control over its budget represents a “half-step backward.”
Carrie Lynch, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, said some members thought the board should have to justify its budget like other state agencies must do.
The Assembly’s version of the budget continues unlimited funding for ethics investigations. A conference committee and the governor will now have the final say. In the last year and a-half, the board has started 51 probes, and spent almost $46,000 on outside investigators.