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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Rules? What rules?

Karyn Polito was stuck in traffic and a few minutes late to work yesterday, so the House passed a supplemental budget over her objections. But she won't be able to use the same excuse for failing to file ethics statements about a road in Shrewsbury that abuts land her family owns.

The Globe reports the Republican candidate for Treasurer seems to be raging against the machine at the same time she benefits from it. That's because she helped to get the state to fund a road that connects her town with a commuter rail station in Grafton.

A road near where her family owns more than 60 acres of land stands to benefits from development in what ha been described as a "formerly desolate" stretch of town.
“Access is critical,’’ said David Begelfer, chief executive of NAIOP Massachusetts, a commercial real estate development association, explaining that the construction of such a road would generally increase the marketability of nearby property. “If you’re going to have a tenant with employees — if you’re able to provide access for driving or by mass transit — you clearly have a site that would be more attractive.’’
Equally clear are the ethics rules that govern the actions of public officials when it involves actions where there is an appearance that it might affect them.
“There is a presumption there is a financial benefit, and in fact it makes sense,’’ said Pamela Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “If you’re getting new services to your property, you’re going to get a benefit from that.’’
Nevertheless, Polito has failed to file appropriate documentation with the state Ethics Commission, despite 23-year-old guidance from that body not to act on matters affecting property near their own.

Nor has Polito detailed her role in multiple family development companies on annual financial disclosure reports, as required by the commission. Polito has disclosed her position as an employee and shareholder of Polito Development Corp., but not her role in three other entities.

The candidate chose to speak through a spokesman with a written statement, always a telling sign:
“Karyn’s advocating for the interests of the town of Shrewsbury is not a conflict of interest, and Karyn has and always will place the interests of her constituents over her own,’’ a spokesman, Frederick Van Magness, said in a statement.
Polito has been campaigning as someone who intends to shake up the status quo from the treasurer's office -- a claim similar to the one made by Joe Malone when he took the office in 1990. We all know how that turned out.

Perhaps she could have used her commuting time to brush up on the ethics laws?

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