December 8, 2023


“Massachusetts has one of the vital opaque legislatures within the nation and this resolution reinforces the established order that advantages highly effective insiders whereas leaving working folks in [the] darkish,” the state auditor stated.

State Auditor Diana DiZoglio. Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe Workers, File

State Auditor Diana DiZoglio stated she plans to forge forward with a sweeping audit of the Massachusetts Legislature, even after Lawyer Normal Andrea Campbell introduced on Friday that DiZoglio’s workplace lacks the authorized authority to take action with out lawmakers’ go-ahead.

DiZoglio, who has confronted pushback on her efforts to probe the legislative department since saying the initiative in March, was dealt one more blow when Campbell declined to again a possible lawsuit that will have compelled the Legislature’s compliance. 

Campbell defined in a 17-page letter that her workplace discovered “no historic precedent in any respect for the kind of audit [DiZoglio’s office] seeks to conduct now,” and that the state auditor “doesn’t presently have the authorized authority to audit the Legislature with out the Legislature’s consent.”

“I consider transparency is a cornerstone of excellent authorities, however that transparency have to be achieved by means of strategies which might be per the regulation,” Campbell stated in a press release. “After an intensive overview of the statutory textual content, pertinent Supreme Judicial Courtroom selections, and related historical past, we have now concluded that present regulation doesn’t enable an audit of the Legislature over its objection.”

Additional, Campbell asserted that her workplace’s findings have been “sufficiently clear that litigation on this query isn’t needed or applicable.”

Campbell did, nonetheless, go away open the opportunity of a 2024 poll query that will give DiZoglio the categorical authority to audit the Legislature. The AG licensed the poll initiative earlier this yr, which means the query might find yourself earlier than voters if DiZoglio and her supporters are in a position to accumulate about 75,000 signatures by Nov. 22. 

But Campbell additionally warned in her letter that “ought to the initiative turn into regulation, we may have to contemplate whether or not, and the extent to which, constitutional limitations have an effect on how the regulation would apply.”

DiZoglio stated in a statement final week that she is going to “proceed to struggle to get this difficulty on the poll.” The auditor additionally stated she respects Campbell’s “proper to her opinion, and to defend the place of legislative leaders,” however vowed that her workplace will proceed to conduct its audit anyway. 

“A query of statutory interpretation on a matter of such significance to taxpayers is greatest answered by the courts, not the manager division of presidency,” DiZoglio stated. “Massachusetts has one of the vital opaque legislatures within the nation and this resolution reinforces the established order that advantages highly effective insiders whereas leaving working folks in [the] darkish.”

In the meantime, Home Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka — each vocal of their objection to the audit — applauded Campbell’s resolution. 

“I’m heartened that the Lawyer Normal and her extremely skilled authorized group reached this conclusion — the place we have now argued for months — primarily based on the regulation, the details, and the historic report,” Spilka wrote in an e-mail to senators Friday morning. “The Lawyer Normal’s findings are crystal clear: the Auditor’s proposed audit has no foundation in regulation and shall not proceed.”

In a joint assertion with Mariano, Spilka additional expressed appreciation for Campbell’s thorough overview. 

“We’re grateful to see the Lawyer Normal’s authorized course of conclude, and we stay dedicated to persevering with the work of the folks of Massachusetts,” the pair stated.