I have a friend who is a professor at Clark University, who emailed me the below article. I thought it was interesting to see that other publications picked up this unusual incident, which has turned out to be just miscommunication between the two Senators offices.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass., Friday, Feb. 17, 2006:
Ever wonder how all those phantom amendments, highly favorable to one special interest or another, manage to worm their way into legislation on Beacon Hill with no discernable sponsor and without benefit of committee vetting or legislative debate?
An appalling attempt to alter a Senate bill regarding sale of junk food in schools an issue hotly contested by interests ranging from health advocates to the vending-machine industry offers a disheartening glimpse behind the curtain.
The scheme came to light this week when an angry state Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, reported the violation during a closed-door caucus. Mr. Moore said an aide to state Sen. Jarrett Barrios, with two lobbyists in tow, walked past a receptionist into the empty office of Mr. Moores chief of staff, opened a computer and started e-mailing sections of the amendments to Mr. Barrios office “so they could incorporate some kind of an amendment.”
The brazenness of the scheme is breathtaking, beginning with the fact that the aide brought along a couple of lobbyists, presumably to oversee the changes.
Why hijack another senators staff computer? Obviously, it was to avoid leaving an electronic trail leading back to the lobbyists or Mr. Barrios office. Any attempt to trace the amendments would point to Mr. Moore (who happens to oppose the changes).
Pulling such a dirty trick is a grave ethical betrayal. That it was aimed at Mr. Moore, of all people, compounds outrageousness of the scheme: In the sometimes cutthroat world of state politics, few senators are more esteemed, on both sides of the aisle, for collegiality, integrity and sense of fair play.
Do Senate ethics rules permit such dirty tricks? Does the leadership view this sort of legislative backstabbing and flimflammery as business as usual? Who knows?
One way or the other, though, such perversions of the legislative process should not be allowed to stand.