Power and perception
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Righteous indignation is a wholly appropriate response when one is falsely accused of impropriety.
But when the perception of wrongdoing extends to multiple incidents, as in the case of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, then all the finger-pointing bluster by the longtime North End representative should and will do nothing to dissuade the state Ethics Commission from investigating all of DiMasi’s ties to friends who have profited from legislative action under his watch.
Perhaps DiMasi was wronged by allegations that a Canadian software company that was a major sponsor of a charitable golf event dear to DiMasi received an improper multimillion-dollar state contract that was later rescinded by the Inspector General.
And it’s possible the company, Cognos ULC, hired lobbyist Richard McDonough and paid him $100,000 independent of the fact he is a close personal friend of DiMasi and without the speaker’s knowledge.
And maybe it’s just a coincidence and it was for public policy reasons that DiMasi killed a bill that would have blocked a proposed liquefied natural gas project, an action that ended up making a $14.2 million windfall for DiMasi’s close personal friend, Quincy construction magnate Jay Cashman.
There might be nothing to speculation about DiMasi’s motives in championing a bill to ease permitting restrictions on a wind farm in Buzzards Bay, where, surprisingly, Cashman wants to build 120 turbines.
And there may be no connection between those actions and the fact that DiMasi’s wife and Cashman’s wife have a business relationship and are embarking on a joint production of a cable television show.
And DiMasi may not have known that his good friend and accountant Richard Vitale, who gave DiMasi a $250,000 mortgage, was working on behalf of ticket brokers in the state to get a bill passed that helped their industry – the same Richard Vitale whose brother was a police officer killed in the line of duty in whose memory the charity golf event Cognos sponsored is held.
If DiMasi, who is decrying the damage done to his integrity and family’s reputation, thinks the accumulation of all these incidents does not shake the public’s confidence in his ability to do the public’s business, then he is in denial.
For DiMasi to dismiss the call for an investigation as partisan politics at its worst shows he has not grasped the ills that have befallen many of his predecessors, including several he has served under, such as former convicted Speakers Charles Flaherty and Thomas Finneran.
The state Ethics Commission was formed amid numerous reports of conflicts of interest and sweetheart deals handed out in backrooms to friends of friends who had friends in high places.
Taken individually, an argument can be made that perception is not always reality when it comes to individual allegations, but put it together like we have above, if there’s not a pattern then there has to be an explanation to the public.
The Patriot Ledger (Editorial)
14 May 2008
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