Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick last week signed an ethics reform bill into law. It will restrict gifts for public officials, increase jail time and financial penalties for criminal and civil violations of ethics laws, and strengthen government’s ability to investigate potential crimes.
The new law also will restrict gifts of “substantial value” and prohibit lobbyists from giving gifts. The bill increases the punishment for bribery to 10 years behind bars and a maximum $100,000 fine, up from three years and $5,000. Penalty increases will also apply for other crimes, including conflicts of interest, financial disclosure, and lobbying violations.