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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Leishman awarded railroad contract despite ethics investigation

Despite a pending Ethics Committee investigation, the Executive Council has approved a lease agreement between the state and Representative Peter Leishman, as reported by Kevin Landrigan in the Nashua Telegraph.
Associate Attorney General Ann Rice concluded last week that Leishman and other lawmakers were not guilty of criminal wrongdoing, despite claims that they tried to influence Transportation Commissioner George Campbell to recommend renewal of the lease with Leishman.

The Executive Council unanimously approved the lease without debate, and Gov. John Lynch said he supported it.

"I think the attorney general looked at it in a very comprehensive way,'' Lynch told reporters after the council meeting at Manchester Community College. "That's why the council approved the lease renewal without any discussion.'' (more)
I spoke with Rice yesterday and requested her report on the Leishman investigation. She said there was no report written, but that the entire file would be available for public review within a week. We will share that information with you when it's available. It's regrettable that the Governor and Council would rush this decision before either Leishman's actions are made public or the Ethics Committee convenes.

The investigation and the Ethics Committee may indeed show that neither Leishman, Finance Committee Chair Marjorie Smith, the Governor, nor the handful of other lawmakers who weighed in with Campbell in the case did anything wrong. Why not find out before awarding a contract that can't be reversed for ten years?

The clubby comfort of State House insiders awarding each other contracts is wrong, whether or not it broke the law.

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