Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Ethics Brouhaha Brewing?

One day after a state GOP press release charged a state senate candidate with using public resources for political purposes (source: MA GOP, "MA GOP calls on McQuilken to reimburse state for use of public resources for campaign purposes," 2/10/2004) Willard Mitt Romney's loathsome $150,000-a-year spokesman signaled that Team Reform may have used public resources for political purposes, saying national Republicans had been in contact with Romney's chief of staff, Beth Myers, and her deputy, Peter G. Flaherty to keep tabs on the (gay marriage) debate, and that staff had been in regular contact with the Bush White House and the national Republican Party. (source: Boston Globe, 2/13/2004)

State GOP junior strongman Dominick Ianno admitted the issue could help Republicans running for House and Senate seats, and the Bush campaign. (source: Boston Herald, 2/14/2004)

As the GOP press release indicated, state ethics laws explicitly prohibit the use of public resources for political use. "You may not use public resources for political purposes. Examples of 'public resources' include: office computers, phones, fax machines, postage machines, copies, official cars, staff time, uniforms, and official seals." (source: State Ethics Commission)

If Myers and Flaherty were on state time and used state-funded 'office computers, phones, or fax machines' to stay in 'regular contact' with the national Republican Party they may have violated the state's Conflict of Interest Law against using public resources for political purposes.

As a matter of routine, the State Ethics Commission does not confirm or deny on-going investigations. As such, it is not known whether or not the Fraud Governor's telephone logs or computer hard-drive (or those of his subordinates) have been subpoenaed.

It is also not known how the Ethics Commission would define a Conflict of Interest violation, however charges of this type are typically narrowly drawn. For example, in 1998, Rob Gray, a GOP-consultant who has done work for Romney (source: Boston Globe, 11/20/2003) but was then Paul Cellucci's campaign manager, indicated he would file complaints in both the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, and the state Ethics Commission, in part, because of "a campaign-related press release written by (Joseph D. Malone's) taxpayer-salaried deputy treasurer." (source: Worcester T&G, 1/7/1998; Boston Globe, 1/7/1998) (We wonder who that could have been.)

(Ironically, the charges mentioned by Gray, now a GOP-consultant who has done work for Romney (source: Boston Globe, 11/20/2003), were grounded in criticism by Malone of Robert Cordy, who has since been named to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Cordy opposed the Court's recent gay marriage decision.)

Wait a minute. We just realized that after 414 words, we haven't made one joke.

But then, this whole thing isn't very funny, is it?


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