Senator Brian Joyce is a seasoned incumbent in his district of Milton, Massachusetts, but has recently come under fire for unethical behavior. Since 1996, the Senator has been receiving free dry-cleaning service from small Randolph business owner Jerry Richman of Woodlawn Cleaners. The Boston Globe first reported this story on January 12, leading to Governor Baker questioning whether this was moral behavior for a public official to take part in.
Baker, speaking on WGBH radio station during his show, “Ask the Governor”, first prompted that that there be an investigation into Joyce’s transactions even calling for the Senate to “consider removing him from his leadership positions” (masslive). The same day the story broke, Republican Party Chair of Massachusetts, Kirsten Hughes, also supported that Senate President Stanley Rosenberg should “remove Joyce from all committee posts” (masslive).
It is apparent that this breach of ethic conduct should not be overlooked and needs to be handled immediately. For Joyce, he provided a statement that these were “false accusations,” and that he and the owner had a barter system where Joyce would give legal advice in exchange for laundry services, because the “property owner… claimed an inability to pay” (masslive). Joyce also claims he had sent in evidence proving innocence that this relationship was well within legal means, but this was ignored (Boston Globe).
This is not the first time that the Senator has been questioned over certain actions. Back in 2014, Joyce used campaign funds to cover the cost of a high school graduation party for his son. This $3,400 charge, Joyce said was a joint campaign party, and the Ethics Committee agreed with that, but Joyce still had to step down from his assistant majority leader position. The Office of Campaign and Political Finance also had to look into whether Joyce could receive 40 free pairs of sunglasses worth $234 to give to his employees, which Joyce only paid for after the Boston Globe made inquiries.
Joyce has claimed innocence throughout all these ordeals, but there is a fine line that can easily be crossed by public leaders if they take unwarranted gifts or services for free. According to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, “a Member, officer, or employee may accept a gift, other than cash or cash equivalent, having a value of less than $50, provided that the source of the gift is not a registered lobbyist, foreign agent, or private entity that retains or employs such individuals” (Senate Select Committee on Ethics). Depending on the results of the investigation, Senator Joyce may have to step down as Senator of Milton, Massachusetts.
This calls into question whether public officials should be given this level of special treatment with incentives. Their celebrity status puts them on a pedestal from which they believe themselves infallible, but the public deserves better. Public leaders work for the betterment of their constituents, and millions are funded through tax revenues for them to do their job. Politics can be a corrupt process, but through investigations these criminals can be brought to justice. If these allegations against Senator Joyce are true hopefully he will take full responsibility for his unethical behavior to set a precedent for current and future officials.