In a terrific piece of muckraking, Mike Beaudet and the FOX Undercover team at Fox 25 News exposed a highly paid official at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife who was drinking at strip clubs in Rhode Island when he was supposed to be at work. And not just once, but at least nine times over the course of several months. According to Fox 25:
Our investigation started with a tip from a viewer who noticed something unusual: a marked Massachusetts state vehicle regularly parked on Sims Avenue in Providence, across the street from Club Fantasies. That's where FOX Undercover found the car on July 18th at 1 p.m., and where we saw a man we soon identified as [MassWildlife deputy director Dr. Robert] Deblinger.
Through sporadic surveillance during the summer, FOX Undercover identified the driver as Dr. Deblinger, and found a regular pattern.
We found him arriving at MassWildlife's temporary field headquarters in West Boylston a little before 8 a.m. After three hours of work, he hit the road at around 11 a.m., making the drive to Providence in about an hour. After spending three or four hours inside, he would return to his state-issued car and drive home, arriving at a condominium in Shrewsbury just before 5 p.m....
On July 28th, Dr. Deblinger left Club Fantasies after spending two hours inside. We followed him to a Home Depot in Providence, but he wasn't after two-by-fours. He walked across the parking lot and into another strip club, The Cadillac Lounge. We saw him stop at the Cadillac Lounge twice during the nine days we saw him at in Providence.
I thought this was a great piece. The best journalism, in my opinion, is work that exposes corruption, fraud, and waste in government. The FOX Undercover team deserves credit for sticking with this story for several months in order to show the extent of what this guy was getting away with.
After the story was released, Mike Beaudet interviewed Governor Deval Patrick, who said "I wish that the folks who tipped you off would tip off his supervisors. Or at least do so simultaneously."
Personally, I'm glad the story played out the way it did. If MassWildlife had been tipped off at the same time as Fox 25, Deblinger and his supervisors may have tried to pass this off as a one-time thing. Instead, the story forced Deblinger's resignation and the embarrassment will hopefully lead to MassWildlife reforming its practices to ensure this doesn't happen again.