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Inspector General should get power to place witnesses under oath

There’s been no shortage of corruption and waste, or allegations thereof, in Massachusetts politics in recent years, and amid the complicated sprawl of state government it helps when multiple agencies have the ability to sniff out abuses. Glenn Cunha, the state’s new inspector general, has filed a bill asking for expanded subpoena power. This could prove a hard sell on Beacon Hill, where increased scrutiny isn’t always welcome. But it is good public policy, and should pass.

Cunha was sworn in for a five-year term in August. Currently, the law gives his office the broad power to subpoena documents. But to subpoena a witness to testify under oath, he needs approval from six members of the Inspector General Council, an eight-member board that meets quarterly. Cunha wants the authority that the attorney general and district attorneys currently have when they are readying a case for a grand jury: the power to issue a subpoena without prior approval. Of the 13 states and territories with statewide inspectors general, 10 grant those officials similar power.

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