Linsky says panel can’t probe Probation hiring
Aide: Post Audit barred from investigating Legislature
The chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight says the panel does not have jurisdiction to investigate hiring practices at the state Probation Department because such an investigation would necessitate an investigation of the Legislature itself.
Republicans Rep. James Lyons Jr. of Andover and Marc Lombardo of Billerica asked Democratic Rep. David Linsky of Natick, the chairman of the post audit committee, to launch an investigation of hiring practices at the Probation Department under former commissioner John O’Brien, who recently was sentenced to 18 months in prison for running a rigged hiring system at the agency. The two lawmakers also asked Linksy to make referrals to the House Ethics Committee if any lawmakers were involved in the criminal activity at Probation.
Linsky, who was called as a witness at O’Brien’s trial in connection with a spate of hires that a jury deemed illegal gratuities, responded in a letter on Friday that said “our jurisdiction does not extend to the scope of your request.”A Linsky aide noted that the statute establishing the post audit committee allows it to investigate virtually any aspect of state government “except any such agency or unit within the legislative branch.”
The situation illustrates how difficult it is for the Legislature to investigate its own members and its own actions. In this case, the situation is even more delicate because House Speaker Robert DeLeo was named as an unindicted coconspirator in the Probation Department scandal. DeLeo has said the jury’s guilty verdicts cleared him of any wrongdoing, but he has never fully explained why the agency allowed him to steer jobs at a new facility in Clinton to his colleagues. Most of the people who were hired at the Clinton facility were hired sight unseen. Linsky, the chairman of the post audit committee, was one of the lawmakers who DeLeo’s office allowed to refer someone for a job at the Clinton facility.