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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Friends of Sal Dimasi

I wouldn't sweat the Ropes & Gray solicitation letter.

The Massachusetts blogosphere was in high dudgeon earlier this week over a Herald story that Diane Patrick's name was on a client "alert" about a new Massachusetts law regarding damages in wage cases. "Did Deval step in it again?" was the operative question.

Today's Globe headlines a much bigger ethical question, focusing on how a pro-consumer ticket bill aimed at ending scalping emerged from the House as a pro-industry measure. And all the industry needed to do was hire a friend of Sal DiMasi, his financial adviser who also brokered a below-market rate third mortgage for Mr. Speaker.

And who, by the way, is not a registered lobbyist.

We're all aware of "DrapeGate" and "CaddyGate" and now "BookGate." The governor has been lambasted from the left and right (not helping himself with stupid tactical moves). His poll numbers are sagging and his ethics and competence are being questioned.

Meanwhile, DiMasi bumps along from one questionable encounter and deal to another without so much as an eyebrow raised on the public scene.

Part of the difference of course is that Patrick was elected statewide with a promise of changing business as usual. DiMasi represents one district in the North End, runs the Massachusetts House and is business as usual.

And he's been winning -- casinos, corporate tax reporting. You get the picture.

Patrick's latest "blunder" was allowing a bill to become law without his signature. It's credible to suggest he did that to avoid any appearance of conflict with the law firm for whom his wife works in the labor practice.

It was a classic "damned if you do, damned if you don't situation" and he was indeed damned on both scores.

The latest DiMasi matter is far more complex and troubling. Here are the Globe's nut grafs:
But because [Richard] Vitale, a Charlestown accountant with the firm of Vitale, Caturano & Co., was not registered as a lobbyist when he helped the brokers with their bill - and because of his financial ties to the speaker - the episode raises questions on how DiMasi and his political allies conduct business on Beacon Hill.

If Vitale was paid more than $5,000 to influence lawmakers - and several brokers briefed on his fee arrangements said he most certainly was - he would have had to register as a lobbyist. And if he was working as a lobbyist, his ongoing financial relationship with DiMasi - namely, the loan - would have run afoul of state conflict of interest laws that prohibit lobbyists from granting anything of value to a public official.

Admittedly a lot of ifs there. And DiMasi, surrounded by his spokesman, House legal counsel and chief of staff, denied he was aware that his accountant/friend Vitale was involved in working for legislation to lift regulations on the ticket resale business.
"I had no idea that he was working for them or what his relationship was," said DiMasi. "He's never talked to me about any legislation at all."
Good thing he didn't make that statement under oath. It was that sort of broad denial that got Tom Finneran an obstruction of justice conviction.

I suspect this will capture the attention of the state Ethics Commission and Secretary of State Bill Galvin's Public Records Division. Not to mention the Republican United States Attorney for Massachusetts.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

DiMasi is a joke of a leader and a crook of a politician. The State House is an absolute disaster and nobody of power is actually looking out for the interests of their constituency anymore. Finneran was the same way and the job just got handed over to the next best criminal. Therese Murray is an out of touch air head, so I wouldn't be suprised if that bill actually does get through the Senate since she's a great yes-woman and that is how she got to where she is now. I have no confidence in the leaders of this state.

April 27, 2008 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Dan Farnkoff said...

Don't expect much from the State Ethics Commission- they get their funding from the Legislature (i.e., DiMasi).

April 27, 2008 3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corrupt is as corrupt does. Where's the outrage that DiMasi is no better than Finneran in controlling the House as a dictator and buying off reps with paying chairs (and 100 times more corrupt than Finneran)? Where's the ballot questions instructing reps to vote against DiMasi? Where's the angry remarks by Common Cause? Forget it - because the reps he bought off are all progressives and as Rep Balser said we vote together only because (to paraphrase) "we're a team". Corrupt is as corrupt does.

April 27, 2008 4:38 PM  
Blogger Not Whitey Bulger said...

So your point is, Deval may be an incompetent boob, but DiMasi is a crook? Works for me.

April 27, 2008 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The difference is Patrick actually did things - backed casinos despite the ethical considerations in his own household and bought the drapes and the cadillac. The worst that DiMasi seems to have done is chosen poorly in a friendship with a guy who couldn't be satisfied with running one of the largest accounting firms in the country, but had to run his mouth off about his powerful friend to make himself more important to his clients and make himself a little more money. Sad, little man.

April 27, 2008 10:17 PM  
Blogger Ari Fertig said...

Please. If you changed the names in this article we'd be hearing about how Deval is now already a lame duck. The original post is spot on.

April 28, 2008 1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't underestimate the wrecked accounts this jerk [Richard] Vitale, the Charlestown accountant with the firm of Vitale, Caturano & Co., (he was not registered as a lobbyist when he helped the brokers with their bill - and because of his financial ties to the speaker). This guy and his firm are up to their ears in ripping off old ladies, having a clueless widower sign blank checks - that they 'took care of', no-show billing for their pal lawyers, shady low cost and no cost loans of client funds to his pals and their relatives, misappropriation of client investments. One widower had 3 mil, now is told she must sell her house and can't pay for presciptions. All the while he charged outrageous fees, did no disclosure to trustees, yet his car sales pals made money leasing her high-end cars --- and she does not even drive!

April 28, 2008 2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, but he is on the Board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, with John Henry's and Bob Kraft's wives.

check out the contirbutions he and his family and the Caturanos have given at the Office of Campaign and Political Finance site ...

April 28, 2008 3:05 PM  

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