Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Boston Globe Dry Cleaning

Just picking it up on my way home:

"Dispute over state senator’s dirty laundry raises questions" by Andrea Estes Globe Staff  January 12, 2016

RANDOLPH — The deal began ever so casually, Jerry Richman recalled. Brian Joyce visited Richman’s dry cleaning shop when he was first running for state Senate back in 1997, and the eager-to-please businessman spontaneously offered to clean Joyce’s clothes for free.

Richman said there was no formal agreement and he didn’t set a time limit. The shop owner, then president of the local chamber of commerce, said he just liked the idea of befriending an up-and-coming politician who was fond of saying, “When you have me for a friend, you have a friend for life.”

Richman says now that he had no idea then just how fully Joyce would embrace the offer.

For the next decade, Senator Joyce or his legislative aide brought his suits, his family’s clothes, and sometimes his aide’s clothes to Woodlawn Cleaners almost every week to collect on Richman’s offer, say Richman, his son, and two former longtime employees. The father and son estimate that Joyce typically brought in $50 to $100 worth of dry cleaning each time, representing tens of thousands of dollars in uncompensated services.

“Everybody knew,” said Wendy Hess, Woodlawn’s assistant manager when Jerry Richman sold the business in 2008. “Anybody who went into the computer knew Senator Joyce got clothing cleaned for free.”

Joyce, a Milton Democrat who stepped down as assistant majority leader last year amid a continuing ethics investigation, declined to answer questions about his dry cleaning. However, Joyce’s attorneys insist that the free dry cleaning was not a gift but Richman’s way of paying for Joyce’s legal services over the years.

It was one of the joyce of serving in the state senate.

“The amount of unpaid legal services dwarfs any dry cleaning services given in exchange,” said Joyce’s attorney, David H. Rich, in a written statement to the Globe. Rich’s law firm sent Richman a letter last week listing 15 matters dating back to 2003 on which Joyce claims to have represented Richman.

Richman acknowledges that Joyce gave him some discounted legal services — but only after Joyce had been getting free dry cleaning for at least six years.

And Richman notes that Joyce was paid for much of his legal work, including more than $140,000 from Richman’s insurance companies, a $5,000 retainer fee paid by Richman, and another $23,192 Joyce’s firm kept from insurance company payments to Richman.

Several ethics experts, told of Joyce’s dry cleaning deal, condemned such an arrangement, saying that public officials are generally not supposed to accept anything worth $50 or more. Even if Joyce traded legal services for the dry cleaning, they said, he would have to keep records to show that he did not receive a net benefit of $50 or more.

Joyce has acknowledged there is no written record of the dry-cleaning-for-legal services arrangement and he cannot remember when it began.  Good government advocates said that, assuming Richman’s account is accurate, Joyce appears to have abused his position. Although the statute of limitations ran out last year for any action by the state ethics commission, they said that should not protect Joyce from public scrutiny.

“The fact that the statute of limitations has run means he’s gotten away with it on a certain level. But it doesn’t mean in the court of public opinion he should be exonerated,” said Jeanne Kempthorne, a former federal prosecutor and member of the state ethics commission who is now co-chair of the board of Common Cause Massachusetts. “It’s beyond the pale.”

This thing is still dirty!

Former US attorney Michael Sullivan said the alleged free laundry service “raises a lot of red flags” for him, too.

“It’s no different than a law enforcement officer taking free dinners on their beat,” Sullivan explained. “At one time, it was a practice, but all police departments decades ago told police officers it’s improper and shouldn’t be done — even if there is no expectation of a quid pro quo.”

If, as Joyce asserts, he traded dry cleaning for legal services, Sullivan added, he would have had to report the value of the services on his taxes.

Joyce is already under investigation by both the ethics commission and the Office of Campaign and Political Finance for possible violations of the state’s conflict of interest and campaign finance laws, according to his Senate colleagues.

Though the ethics commission hasn’t yet released details of its investigation, Joyce has come under fire for accepting discounts and free goods. In late 2014, he obtained 40 pairs of $234 sunglasses as holiday gifts for his colleagues but didn’t pay until the Globe asked about them. Even then, he paid only $3,641, mostly from campaign funds, instead of the full price, more than $11,000.

Joyce drew attention from campaign finance regulators after he charged his campaign fund $3,400 to pay for his son’s high school graduation party in 2014. Joyce justified the expense to the Globe by arguing that the party was also a campaign event, though people who were there said there were no political speeches or posters.

Joyce also faces allegations that he uses his position as state senator to attract business for his Canton law practice. Officials from a Philadelphia-based solar energy company said they were stunned in 2012 when they came to Joyce for help on a legislative issue and he asked the company, Tecta Solar, to let his firm represent it on Massachusetts projects, including one in his district.

“It was suggested we could retain him, but we never pursued it. It was certainly not our intent and it was twisted in a completely different direction,’’ said Samir Dube, who was then the company’s managing director....

Nice to see them shine a little light on him.


NDUGovernor wants ethics probe into lawmaker’s laundry scheme

They already are; it's just to late to charge him with any violation of the law. Oops. 

C'mon! The ethics commission is there to protect members and cover the things up until its too late. 

Wake up, people!

UPDATE: Sen. Joyce to pay nearly $5,000 to resolve campaign finance issues

Yeah, that makes everything better and he's blaming the Globe after that wonderful photo?