State Auditor Diana DiZoglio said Friday that many of her former colleagues in the Massachusetts House and Senate support her controversial audit of the state Legislature, but fear that voicing their support publicly will lead to retribution.
“There are a lot of legislators who actually welcome the opportunity for an audit — but understand that they may be retaliated against if they support such an effort,” DiZoglio told Adam Reilly on GBH News’ Talking Politics.
“A lot of folks have expressed to me that, you know, they might be supportive, but fear that if they do express that publicly that their district will be punished, that their community will be punished,” she added.
In her 2022 campaign, DiZoglio had vowed to audit the Legislature if elected, and earlier this month she followed through. On March 7, she delivered formal notifications — know as letters of engagement — to House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka, telling them she plans to review “budgetary, hiring, spending and procurement information ... information regarding active and pending legislation, the process for appointing committees, the adoption and suspension of House and Senate rules and the policies and procedures of the House and Senate.”
In a statement issued after DiZoglio’s announcement, Spilka questioned both the need for DiZoglio’s audit and the auditor’s authority to conduct it.
In her interview with GBH News Friday, DiZoglio did not directly answer a question about what her audit could reveal about the Legislature that isn’t already known.
Later in the interview, however, she said that “information regarding active and pending legislation” could include communications between legislative leaders and rank-and-file members about how leadership expects them to vote on certain bills.
“Certainly conversations could be part of an audit — conversations with staff, conversations with legislators,” DiZoglio said.
DiZoglio also said that, as of March 17, neither Mariano nor Spilka had directly responded to the notification letters sent to them 10 days earlier, and that no specific information has yet been requested from either chamber.
Those same letters also state that, when DiZoglio does request specific information, the House and Senate will have 72 hours to provide it.
If legislative leaders don’t meet that expectation, DiZoglio said, she’ll try to persuade them to cooperate before pursuing a legal remedy.
“I hope that the courts do not have to be involved in this conversation,” she said. “They shouldn’t have to be involved in this conversation. That is a path that I said I would take if necessary, but ... I’m hoping that legislative leadership will come around.”
Critics have contended for years that the Massachusetts Legislature is opaque to a fault. Among other things, a 1997 Supreme Judicial Court decision that many consider misguided exempts the House and Senate from state public-records law, and the votes taken by House members on key committee votes are not shared with the public.
Watch: DiZoglio pushes forward with legislature audit despite pushback from lawmakers
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