Mass auditor announces rare review of Legislature
Massachusetts Auditor Diana DiZoglio announced Tuesday that her office has launched an audit of the state Legislature — the first such review in a century.
The Democrat, who previously served as both a state representative and senator, had pledged to review the Democrat-controlled Legislature's operations during her campaign for the auditor's office last year.
DiZoglio said she hopes the audit will “increase transparency, accountability and equity in an area of state government that has been completely ignored.”
"Historically, the Legislature has been a closed-door operation, where committee votes have been hidden from the general public, and legislation has been voted on in the dark of night,” DiZoglio said in a press statement.
The last time the Massachusetts Legislature was subjected to an audit was in 1922, according to DiZoglio.
A spokesperson for Senate President Karen Spilka said that the rules the Senate has set for itself under the state Constitution requires that it "undergoes an audit every fiscal year by a certified public accounting firm experienced in auditing governmental entities and provide that audit to the public."
They added that Senate business, from payroll information to calendars, can be accessed at the comptroller’s website.
"If anyone wishes to view this information, it is available to the public," the spokesperson said.
An aide to Democratic House Speaker Ronald Mariano said he did not have an immediate comment.
Critics have pointed to the Massachusetts Legislature as one of the least transparent in the country.
The 200-member Legislature is exempt from the state's open meeting law and Democrats — who hold overwhelming majorities in both chambers — routinely hold closed-door caucuses to discuss legislation away from the ears of the press and public.
During state budget debates in the House, lawmakers typically gather in a side room off the House Chamber to hash out which amendments will be added to the massive spending plan and which won't — again out of view of the public and press.
DiZoglio said taxpayers deserve the opportunity to weigh in on legislative, budgetary and regulatory matters that are important to them.
"Everyone should have equitable and transparent access to and information about all state-funded agencies, including the Legislature,” DiZoglio said.
DiZoglio said she hopes lawmakers welcome the audit. She said her office will make the review public once it is completed.
WBUR's Steve Brown contributed to this report.