Thursday, November 06, 2003
HEFA-ty Lifting

We love day-two news stories, but hate day-two blog stories. But this one's a puzzle.

On Tuesday Willard Mitt claimed "I don't even know what HEFA is" on WRKO. (see RiaF, 11/5/03)

HEFA, which helps hospitals and schools sell bonds to finance capital projects, has $88.2 million in aggregate long-term debt payments and sinking fund requirements for 2004. (source: mhefa.org) That’s not exactly walking around money, even for Romney.

Now we admit, when we first heard Romney's statement, we assumed he was lying.

But consider the alternative. Maybe Romney truly doesn't know HEFA. Maybe he only appointed John Fish to the HEFA board because Fish gave him $500 in both 2002 and 2003. (source: OCPF)

If so, then Romney has done Fish, and Fish's company - Suffolk Construction - a real disservice. Because Suffolk bids on work that is often funded through HEFA.

For example, in March 2001, Tufts announced it would sell $50 million in bonds through HEFA for new construction. (source: mhefa.org) Suffolk Construction was subsequently chosen to manage Tufts' Jaharis Family Center project – which was financed with the bonds. (source: high-profile.com)

The Suffolk/Tufts/HEFA relationship was not improper. Fish was not on HEFA's board when the Tufts bonds were issued or when Suffolk bid the job. However, had he been, Fish would have had to recuse himself from the vote, or decline to bid on the project.

Romney appointed Fish to a seven-year term. Which means that for the next seven years, Fish will either have to recuse himself from board votes, or steer his company away from HEFA-funded jobs.

This could make for cumbersome board operations, and hurt Suffolk's bottom line.

All in all, ‘tis a puzzlement.

In any event, we suggest that on November 11 the Fraud Governor traipse down to 99 Summer Street around 1:00 p.m. That's the next HEFA board meeting. He may wish to introduce himself to John Fish, the appointee he apparently forgot.


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