Feds indict Sal DiMasi, Richard Vitale, and others

Good heavens.

Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi and three associates have been indicted, according to court records. The US Attorney’s office has scheduled a 3:30 p.m. press conference “to make an announcement in a public corruption matter,” according to a statement issued by the Justice Department…. Also indicted were Richard McDonough, a lobbyist for computer software company Cognos ULC and close friend of DiMasi; Joseph Lally, the Cognos sales agent; and Richard Vitale, a former DiMasi campaign treasurer who was also paid by Cognos.

The Globe has now helpfully posted the indictment.  It’s quite a read.  Especially this:

69. On or about December 13, 2006, after finding a bookkeeping error, Cognos sent a $25,000 check to P.A. ["Private Attorney" -- Steven Topazio, according to the Globe] for the missed payments.

70. On or about December 20, 2006, P.A. deposited the $25,000 check from Cognos and informed DiMASI that a $25,000 check from Cognos had arrived.  DiMASI told P.A. that he wanted all of it.  P.A. wrote and mailed a $25,000 check to DiMASI.

71. On or about December 28, 2006, DiMASI instructed P.A. to replace the $25,000 check with four backdated checks in the amounts of $8,000, $4,000, $6,000, and $7,000 to further disguise the payments as typical referral fees.  P.A. wrote the four checks to DiMASI.

Yikes.

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60 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I'm guilty, baby!

    • Why?

      Insult a basketball anyalyst from FL? Nothing about this occasion is humorous.

      • Three BMGers disagree with you -- well four, if I include myself

        If you can't see the joke in linking a guy named Richard Vitale with a personality named Richard Vitale, even though they're clearly different people, well then I can't help you sir.

  2. ethics office

    I'm sure Dimasi checked with the ethics office and it was OK to get a $5000 a month kickback from Cognos. And all would have been fine in this state, but the feds had to come in and muck it all up.

  3. The First Time?

    I wonder how many other schemes DiMasi has been involved in? The reading of that pdf on boston.com outlining the charges and the evidence....WOW. I don't want to paint a broad brush...but can this be the first time?

  4. I'm just angry...

    Yes, he is innocent until proven guilty, but the indictment is pretty damning.  I also find it galling that his Attorney comes out there and says that Sal is just like every other Rep trying to do good things, show me another Rep that gets a third mortgage from his buddy. The other 159 Reps should be out of their minds right now, esp. the democrats!  If this 'private citizen' is guilty, his sentence should be standing in a stock outside the State House 5 days a week (including Evacuation and Bunker Hill Days) for 5-7 years!  

  5. Good Heavens and Yikes

    C'mon Judy, Amber, Eury and the D brothers (Capital and Gonzo).  No info on the defense fund?

    • John - that is a worthless, cheap shot and you know it

      All I can say is the "cooperating informant" on the Wilkerson case who stopped cooperating "because they only indicted black folk" should go back to cooperating now.

      It is true that I don't find shameful behavior anything to crow over - including the Republican official who just got locked up after a conviction for corruption for seven years.

      Whenever it is "all about the money" and someone loses control over their ethics - Republican or Democrat - and has a lot of power - think Abramoff for example, these tawdry scandals happen.

    • Yeah? I'm pissed.

      So I'm a sucker. I took the info available before today and decided to believe that Vitale used his connection with DiMasi to land a sweetheart job that paid more than it was worth (and didn't register as a lobbyist, even though he should have). I didn't think DiMasi was raking in the dough under the table, and I've been proven wrong.

      See, the thing is - and I think this speaks to a fundamental difference between many on this blog - I want to see government as a force for good. Go ahead, call me naive. I know that there are those who take advantage of the system, but most of the ones I know personally are good, honest, hard-working people who ran for office and got elected to try and make things a little bit better in their community and this state.

      DiMasi did many good things. He helped us get the closest thing this country has to universal health care. He worked his ass off to preserve gay marriage when MA was the only state touching the issue. He was a far sight better than Finneran, at least for someone like me who wants to see progressive policy passed.

      Maybe I had blinders on, or maybe I just didn't want to assume the worst about the man when the publicly available facts were less than clear. There were those who railed against him at the first sign of trouble, but many of them are the same people who rail against all politicians. Odds are they're going to be right sooner or later.

      DiMasi seems to have betrayed the trust that all of us put in him, and I hope he is punished accordingly. But I'm not going to stop believing that government, and those in it, can still do good work.

      We all need to be watchdogs, but that doesn't mean we have to assume the worst at every turn, even if it happens to be true some of the time.  

      • Extremely well said.

        If you're inspired, turn this into a post.  I'll FP.

      • Believers and Skeptics

        You clearly know that as a body we're made up of believers and skeptics.  You define yourself as a believer in government; I define myself as a skeptic.  That's fine.  We can work with that and govern this state.

        When a believer leaves their blinders on, that's handing new ammunition to a skeptic.

        We both agree we need watchdogs.  In this case, the watchdogs were barking like crazy - the Globe was tracing money from Cognos salespeople to DiMasi's business partner/campaign treasurer.

        In my mind, the believer should hang it up, and find a new leader to believe in; you have to understand that the skeptic will never follow such a leader. It's the pragmatic thing to do.

        If you keep believing while the watchdogs bark, you lose the skeptics.  You need the skeptics, too.

      • Eury - you are right, but he is wrong.

        There's a reason it's referred to as the Hack-Progressive Alliance.

        And the hacks are using the progressives.

        I absolutely agree with your characterization of most elected officials - but in my experience, the honest never become 'leaders', either.

        A couple of times over the years, the dilemna has come up - yes, s/he's a little shaky, but those policy stances are my causes, so we'll help/look the other way/justify - for the greater good.

        Progressives need to decide if being used by hacks who are willing to provide lip service is worth the loss of honesty (Theirs, not yours).  Because, if not, government will cease to have any chance of being that force for good.

        • More than lip service

          For whatever Sal's sins are, he really did deliver the goods to the progressive community - health care, environment, revenue, marriage equality and stopping slots. I feel sad that he decided to gamble it all in the end, when he clearly (no pun intended) knew enough to know the House always wins. People who continually take money in politics are going to get caught. If we have to end the 'hack' culture through FBI investigation, so be it. The hunt is on.  

          • The definition of a flawed hero

            Shakespeare would have had a party with this guy...

            sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
          • Why do you still defend...

             a lying corrupt law maker breaker? And why do you take the stance of " I feel sad that he decided to gamble it all in the end"? My experience with criminals is when they get bagged we are only catching the "latest" crime they committed and surely they have been doing things like this before.

            I've been cynically been touting that grand juries are the only thing that seems to get MA politicians out of office but my concern is there are only so many prosecutors compared to all out pols. The pols will still win.

            A good starting point might be for zealous supporters of people like Sal such as yourself, should start to realize these are just people. We have to understand that although we love our "heroes" like Manny, Sal, Gov Spitzer, AROD, Maddoff, GB and whomever else you "want" to worship, they are not above reproach, they are not perfect, they can be "bad people". When people first heard about Rush being hooked on drugs I'm sure his supporters would punch your lights out just for saying it... but it was true. HERE IT COMES... then we have the John Edwards "love child" (how dare I give that rumor any air time).

            When the stories of Sal starting coming out, we all should have pondered about whether it could be true instead of blindly rallying behind him... I mean look at the record of his two predecessors???? But the "sheep" just kept supporting him and shame on our legislators for voting overwhelming for Sal while the dark cloud was hanging ominously over his head. There is clearly a difference between loyalty and naivety. Usually the best scammers will prime the pump with some booty/winnings... before they "take the mark".

            Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8
            • Why is this hard for you?

              Why is it hard for you to understand that the progressive community both (a) is grateful for his hard work and leadership on a number of progressive issues, and yet (b) frustrated/upset/saddened/pissed off about his indictable behavior?

              P.S. wrt

              My experience with criminals is when they get bagged we are only catching the "latest" crime they committed and surely they have been doing things like this before.

              Just how much first hand experience do you have with criminals?

            • I do believe the word is $quot;disappointment.$quot;

              I'm deeply disappointed. He did a lot of good and would have done a whole lot more if he decided to remain above the fray. I think you confuse my recognition of the truth - that he did indeed help move key issues - with a "defense." I'm not defending what he did re: Cognos. If you break the law and betray the trust of public service, you're going to come down, hard. Should he be convicted, he'll pay stiff consequences.

              We have a lot of work to do as a state to help reduce these happenings -- and I hope the legislature will now be compelled to properly act. We don't need reform that makes already illegal laws more illegal -- that's not nearly enough. We need election reform, lobbyist reform and more transparency.  

              As a final note, what part of the process here was flawed? You suggested that we should have expressed doubts earlier on. The information earlier on wasn't conclusive. I wasn't willing to trash someone who had done a lot of good in a short amount of time out of idle speculation. We have more information now (and for a while) and are better able to make a conclusion. He indeed had to go. All along, I made the point that we have a process to root out illegal behavior that Sal could have been doing. Investigators did their job. What good were the tabloid-style headlines, with little new information, doing months and months ago? Convictions in the courts of public opinion when there's a severe lack of information isn't helpful and often ruins innocent lives. The system here worked; we should trust that it will continue to work in the future.  

              • I have to agree with much of what you said, but not all.

                While we may "like" people who agree with us politically/ideologically, it doesn't mean we should not doubt them when headlines like this appear. I certainly don't know this for sure but my guess it when you hear/read headline stories like this about people whom you "disagree" with, I'm sure you give them more credence.

                When Senator Ted Stevens was accused of a crime, I didn't hear people talking about all the "good things" he'd done. I always find it questionable when they arrest someone for a horrible crime (Craig's list killer) and the family, friends and neighbors begin the "he was such a nice guy..." remarks until finally the dirt comes out just how sleazy the person was. My advice is "WAKE UP" to all those who support "anybody" without question.

                Remember, a fool is simply someone who has been fooled.

                I also do not agree with your feelings that law breakers will be caught by the authorities and that "tabloid-style headlines" have no bearing. I think these reports are in fact the stimulus that makes authorities investigate. I also think public's awareness and attitude certainly aim a spotlight on questionable activities so please don't again be naive and think all the bad guys will get caught by law enforcement and we should all simply ignore headlines.

                • another example

                  How did it help your or I for the (alleged) 'craigslist killer' to have all those tabloids?

                  I think he did it, I think he'll get convicted, but there were so many stories written about it, without a great deal of new information, that was merely a means of convicting the guy in the press before the court. He'll be convicted in the courts, in all likelihood, but what purpose did it serve to play it all out in the media beforehand? It's not real news.

                  Elected leaders should be held to a higher standard. Things they do should be covered. Evidence of course should be fair play. Wilkerson caught stuffing money in her bra was a good example. That was dealing with facts. Who knows what the courts will decide in terms of legality, but the fact was she was seen taking money for someone she was doing services for and stuffing it in her bra.  

                  However, idle speculation strays too far -- that's when the media should just let investigators do their job, or sit on the story until something more substantial is uncovered. A lot of the DiMasi stuff was guilt by association. It ended up being true, but a lot of times those things end up false. A next door neighbor of mine many, many years ago - for example - had his picture and name written all over the paper, linked in charges of corruption, because many in the office were actually corrupt. Some of them went to jail. My next door neighbor, though, was completely innocent -- yet dealt with months of seeing his name tarnished and probably years of building back up his reputation. It was a long time before his name was finally cleared, but that only happened after he was tried in the courts of tabloid-style journalism. The media should stay away from guilt by association, stick with the facts and, especially in cases where someone isn't a public official (be it in gov't, or a CEO, etc.), should err on the side letting things happen in the courts before its turned into a story. What good does Nancy-Grace style journalism do for this country?  

        • I don't think BMG supports the hack-progressive alliance

          At least not what I've seen from the Editors. I definitely don't! Hackishness is inimical to progressive government over the long term.

        • Two-way street

          DiMasi did figure out how to work with the progressives in the legislature; he gave them what they wanted and they lined up behind him.

          The other side of the coin is that the progressives wielded enough potential for trouble that the brought a good-old-boy Speaker in line with a lot of their priorities.

          The same thing is going on with DeLeo. A man who voted against gay marriage just a few years ago swung hard left in his run towards the speaker's chair in order to earn the support of other left-leaning members of the House.

          Good government should be a priority for progressive legislators, but does it take preference over all others? If the progressives were to unite and draw a line in the sand on key good government policies, and if they were hence ostracized from leadership and made irrelevant, no longer able to push progressive policy and freeing leadership to be more conservative and hack-ish, would that be the right move to make?

          Progressives don't (yet) have the numbers to take over. Sad but true. So until we get more elected do those we have work within the power structure and get what they can accomplished or do they take as pure a stance as possible no matter the cost?

          It's a question I honestly don't know the answer to, and there are quite a few shades of gray in between.  

          • I have zero tolerance for corruption

            None.

            The end does not justify the means. I fear you draw a false dichotomy (between "good government" and other priorities). I demand that government officials not be corrupt. Period.

            • Agreed

              But what is "corruption"?

              Clearly the crimes in the indictment qualify. But what if there had been no cash exchange? What if Vitale had asked DiMasi to make a phone call as a favor?

              When I talk about "good government" I don't mean weeding out obvious corruption and bribery. That's a no-brainer. I'm referring to things like having a better online info system that includes committee votes, bill histories, et al in an easy-to-find way. I mean spreading around legislative power so that big decisions fall to more than just the Speaker and Senate President.

              No elected official should go along to get along when true illegal activity is involved. But how much of our progressive agenda are we willing to sacrifice so our electeds can put their foot down about the myriad ways that the culture on Beacon Hill is stacked towards closed doors and backroom handshakes as a way of doing business?

              • Let's walk before we run

                I'd like us to start by unceremoniously dumping those officials where a cash exchange does (or did) happen. Mr. DiMasi and his friends are not the only ones taking payola on Beacon Hill.

                I enthusiastically share your desire to have a better online information system. Such a system will go a long way towards identifying thugs and crooks like Mr. DiMasi and his associates.

                I'd like to turn your question around, if you don't mind. How much of our progressive agenda are we willing to pursue if it can only be accomplished through closed doors and backroom handshakes?

                I suggest that the answer we seek lies somewhere between those two poles. Politics is all about people with an agenda. Aspects of politics will always involve some closed doors and backroom handshakes. It seems to me that the art of politics is the skill to balance those forces -- an art in which our "progressive" leaders are proving to be clumsy amateurs.

                In the meantime, I suggest that the first order of business is getting rid of public officials who have made illegal activity a way of life. Talk to some restaurant and nightclub owners if you think government shakedowns are uncommon in this city.

      • For the record

        I believe in government. It IS a force for good. I don't assume the worst of all politicians. For example, I (like you) believe in Deval Patrick, especially in his epic battle with the leadership of our state legislature. I believe that there are representatives and senators who would like to change the way our legislature operates. They just need a toehold in that long uphill climb. I hope Deval can help give them that boost.

        You're too smart to be a sucker. My focus has been posters who I felt were too willing to overlook what appeared to be basic integrity questions (in exchange for advocacy of a few high profile progressive causes) and too willing to accept a legislative operation that is flawed to the core.  

        • See Ryepower12's post that just appeared above

          for what I'm referring to.  He apparently thinks Sal, after a great statesman's career, gambled it all "in the end". Yeah, sure, probably just an isolated incident.  

    • Speakers Come and Speakers go (again)

      No knowledge of a defense fund yet John, but Heaven knows these are very serious federal charges that carry very heavy federal penalties, not including being put in stocks or drawn and quartered on the state house steps.

      Meanwhile if you don't mind, I will continue to be grateful to Sal for championing dozens of big and small policy changes that advanced social economic and racial justice issues for dozens of "special interest groups" with little or no financial resources because he thought it was the right thing to do.

      Many moons ago I wrote an "interesting" FP diary that got lots of commentators expressing strong opinions."Speakers come and Speakers go http://www.bluemassgroup.com/d...    

      Professional lobbyists, and especially those working on what the BMG community would characterize as progressive causes, know that Speakers come and go. And for that matter so do Senate Presidents and Governors. And many of us have reasons to be thankful of recent changes.  

      As a matter of standard practice, however,the political and personal dynamics within and between each Chamber and the Executive Department is simply information to be collected, understood and leveraged to advance positive policy change. Not judged.

      That's what all lobbyists work for -- to snatch a win out of the inevitable whirl of personal and political agendas. And not talk about it in public unless it's to say thank you.  

      I have a hard time understanding folk, including many commentators on BMG, who stand outside the public policy arena counting up the character flaws and characterizing the misadventures of key players as criminal corruption in ways that really discourage community activists from engaging in advocacy.

      Clearly this misadventure has morphed into charges of criminal corruption that will further deflate public confidence in government, making more work for people like me trying to support and inform civic engagement.  

      But I hope it doesn't discourage community activists like you from creating a Hero opportunity out of this for the  conference committees on Ethics, Pensions and Transportation. Tell them they have a unique opportunity to promote and pass solid and strong reforms. Check out who to call on Harmony's Revenue and Reform diary here on BMG.

  6. Wow that is some hard hitting info

    Interesting sure glad he has the money for a good attorney looks like the attorney is going to earn every penny of it making this go away. Maybe we should have a cell in Concord or Walpole reserved for the last speaker isn't this what 4 or 5 in a row that has had to resign and then face the scales of Justice. Maybe they can move in some of the furniture from the state house so they will be more comfortable.

    Ok all the jokes aside this is really a sad day for Democrats maybe we need to look at not just ethics reform but also a way to publicly elect the speaker it appears the house is unable to vet their leadership properly.

    As Usual just my Opinion

    But man!

    • Comprehensive Ethincs Rules

      are helpful to act as guidelines for our dedicated public servants, who care about doing the right thing.

      Crooks won't change their behavior.  

  7. Scumbags

    Before DiMasi was Felonius Finneran and the uncharged, Billy Blarney Bulger.

    The root of the problem isn't ethics (they're part of the solution). The root of the problem is the concentration of power in the hands of a couple of people. A challenge to the Speaker is at best political exile, at worst a politica death wish.

    Aside from hang 'em high, my only thought is how to address this at the convention. It has to come up.

    • This seems to be key

      In the long run this cannot be about DiMasi — otherwise this sad dynasty will continue. We don't need a surprise like this every few years.

      • months, not years -- unfortunately

        An ethics bill 2.0 is desperately needed in both chambers. Hopefully this will spur that.

        Honestly, I don't think ethics reform can come without electoral reform. Unless we reform how people get into office, it's beyond difficult (Herculean?) to actually change the makeup of the chambers.

        While we can't indict every crook in power, generally there are warning signs and worrisome fundraising that normal voters sniff out. If it weren't so damn difficult to oust incumbents in this state, perhaps it wouldn't take a federal indictment to get someone out of office.  

        • Ryan - you cannot legislate ethics, any more than you can morality

          Tightening the constraints and increasing punishments will punish those caught, but will not create ethical behavior.

          How often have I heard the argument that the death penalty isn't a deterrent to crime?

          Amendment #1 to the pension bill is to apply the time in office provision (getting a $300 stipend, and having it count for a whole year of work towards a pension) ONLY to Reps elected next year - not the ones who hold office now. The amendment was filed by a Rep. who has 12 years as a selectman in the system, and the wording of the bill would have cut him back to the five years since he was elected - and he doesn't see anything wrong with filing an amendment which will benefit him personally.

          An ethics 2.0 bill will not make him see that is questionable ethically, even if not criminally.  And actual crime seems to be the standard to avoid in the Lege these days.

          • I thought Tom George's claim got denied

            Or are you talking about another member of the hack-conservative alliance?

            • What claim?

              And former reps don't file amendments.  Check the bill if you would like to see.

              • you're right, it was a sleazy loophole, not a bill

                Here's the gist

                PROHIBIT SALARIES UNDER $5,000 FROM COUNTING TOWARD PENSIONS (S 2025)

                The Senate, 39-0, approved an amendment prohibiting elected local officials from counting toward their pensions any year, after Jan. 1, 2010, in which they were paid less than $5,000.

                Amendment supporters said that current law allows these officials to count years in which they received small stipends as low as $100. They argued that this long overdue change would save the state millions of dollars and stop this gaming of the system.

                They pointed to the example of former Rep. Thomas George who earned a maximum annual "salary" of $500 during his 30 years as Yarmouth town moderator but was able to use those years when calculating his retirement pension. This allowed him to receive a dramatic hike in his annual pension from some $11,000 to a whopping $41,000 plus.

                (A "Yes" vote is for the amendment banning the use of years in which the official earned less than $5,000).

          • I've been saying for a while

            that simply making already-illegal things more illegal isn't going to bring fundamental change on ethics. If we want better ethics, we need better politicians. That comes from changing how we elect politicians. We need more people invested in the system, which means more voters - so anything that encourages participation should immediately be passed, from early voting to same-day registration. Then we need to shine a light on paid lobbyist influence, not just money, but also time. If a politician meets with a paid lobbyist, the meeting should be logged and included on mass.gov. Finally, the most fundamental and necessary change is public financing. Public financing helped elect one person in this state before it was killed -- Jamie Eldridge. 'Nuff said.  

          • Can't legislate?

            By that standard it's impossible to create any disincentive for anything.  You're not seriously suggesting that laws aren't worth creating because ultimately they are always ineffective, are you?  Why be a legislator?

          • Enforcement and sanctions

            Actually, it turns out, yes, ethics can be legislated, but it is a matter of enforcement and not a matter of adjusting the sanctions. To social psychologists, this is a well-known phenomenon.

            It's like speed limits. In countries where speed limits are strongly enforced there's little speeding. Driving under the speed limit becomes "just what we do". In the U.S., speeding is barely enforced. If you're not speeding, you feel pressure to. Others are getting something you're not.

            • are you saying

              Are you saying that if we enforce the laws and indict, say, the last several Speakers, then it becomes less likely the next one will break the law?

    • there's a good point

      Power in the legislature is too concentrated in both houses. We definitely need to make the power much more diffuse. Committee chairmanships should not be decided by the Speaker, it should at least be a general vote amongst each house, with seniority deciding committee makeup - but a requirement that people can't serve committees in consecutive terms.  

  8. What saddened me

    Was the juxtaposition of the previous post

    How do we increase Voter Turnout (especially in Boston)

    with this post on top.

    Political corruption is like viral cynicism.  It infects far beyond the alleged crimes.  It breeds disgust for the political process, disengagement and undermines society.

  9. For those wanting a trip down memory lane...

    Here are a handful of wonderful thoughts and congratulations from loyal blue BMGers for Sal when he was reelected in January. You all showed superb judgement and intuition. (me tearing up) You must all be so proud. I liked this one...

    DiMasi didn't and couldn't approve the contract. He may have pulled strings that helped the deal, but nothing illegal...

    Opps!!!!  See ya later Sal. I hope they throw the book at you for breaking the trust of the people of the state (like so many of your political comrades). You are a disgrace!

    • Great job, JohnD

      The weasels were out in force in that thread. There was a time in Massachusetts when the progressives were the goo-goos - good government types. Now, the progressives make James Michael Curley is rolling over in his grave. As long as they get their votes on Beacon Hill, they're willing to stuff tissue up their noses to cover the stench of corruption they support.

      Apparently, the last principled Democrat has already left the state - and he forgot to turn off the light as he left.  

  10. I hate to say I told you so

    OK, I actually enjoy saying it.

    When DiMasi was re-elected as Speaker, I said that it was a time see what our representatives are made of.  Would they endorse an ethically challenged incumbent, or find a new leader?  They chose the incumbent, and they did it with gusto.  Go back and read some of those nomination speeches, and read the quotes.  They lionized DiMasi.

    http://bluemassgroup.com/diary...

    Now, go back to each one of those representatives who voted for him and ask why they voted for this guy.  And don't let them pull this "we didn't know" crap on you.  The Globe knew.  We knew.  They knew.  They just didn't have the balls to challenge him.

    For one, I demand better of my representatives.

  11. Yup, this is just great.

    Makes it harder and harder to want to do backward somersaults to help candidates get elected and to help gain support for tax increases.  Just had to listen to someone tonight raging about tax increases, and how they want the government to run more efficiently instead of increasing taxes. The bull has to stop. If found guilty, I hope they go to jail.

  12. Kudos to the Globe

    This is eloquent testimony to good journalism.

    The Globe hit a homerun with this one. The investigation, the editing, the reporting, the followup -- were all first rate.

    I think that government requires a vigorous, independent, and aggressive free press to keep it honest. While I support ethics reform, I don't think it will have any substance whatsoever without an energized fourth estate.

    Mr. DiMasi was not the first and surely is not the last corrupt government official in Massachusetts. I hope this story puts every one them on notice.

    Congratulations are in order for the Globe and for the hardworking and underpaid journalists who broke this story.

  13. We are all collectively at fault

    The Speaker of the House doesn't become Speaker by magic. The House of Representatives chooses him and can un-choose him. If the House demands change, there will be change. If not, not.

    The members of the House don't become legislators by magic, either. We choose them and can un-choose them. If we demand change, there will be change. If not, not.

    I fear we will not demand change. I think there are too many people who do not put honest government at the top of their priorities (the "hack-progressive alliance" meme), and I think that it is difficult to demand change when the alternative to any particular Democratic legislator is a Republican who believes all kinds of beastly things--if the Republicans bother to nominate someone at all.

    TedF

    • A typical voter conversation

       Voter #1: "Throw the bums out! They're all crooks!" Voter #2: " You mean your rep. who sends you christmas cards? #1" Well no not him, he's one of the few good ones."

      Conclusion: We all like our local rep. It's all those other crooks we can't stand. Wake up folks! They ALL need to be removed. I can't think of a single democratic rep. from Worcester without baggage. That's sad.

      • I'll admit that my Rep, Jeffrey Sanchez, has been underwhelming at best

        But at least he's not coupled with Dianne Wilkerson as our Senator any longer. Now my district is represented by State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz. A shout-out of praise to Sen. Jamie Eldridge, too, while I'm at it.

        Ever since Sal started being in the news regularly for things like the shady below-cost BMW purchases from a "friend of a friend" and passage of the "landmark insurance law" that's little more than a give-a-way to the state's private health insurance industry while bankrupting the state and many of its residents, there's been a stink brewing...and it was only a matter of when it would all come to light.  

        Is there a money trail to be uncovered on the MA health insurance bill, too, and does it include the Mass. Taxpayers Foundation as well?  

        • Follow the money trail and see who wins and who loses is something that needs to be done much more often

          Check out the Board of Trustees for the Mass Taxpayers Foundation. From a quick glance I see MA Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Partners Healthcare, Beth Israel Deaconess, and most all the major corporate law firms. Is this creepy or is this expected, or both?? It's enough to make a thinking person wonder, "Who pays Michael Widmer?" (akin to "Who was paying-off Sal DiMasi?")

          MTF Trustees http://www.masstaxpayers.org/a...

          A Google search came up with these interesting links that creates an odd overlapping of agreement--in limited scope, to be sure.... http://www.cltg.org/mtf_trojan...

          So-Called Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation: The Fat-Cats' Trojan Horse by Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government

          MTF finally outed as shill for "corporate elite"  (Feb 22, 2002) on CLT website

          Gov's a hero at least for now By Michael Graham, The Boston Herald  (Apr. 28, 2009)

          "Calling Michael Widmer's MTF a 'taxpayer organization' is like calling a pride of lions 'gazelle rights advocates.'"

          Who else is gonna fall?  And just as important, who's gonna be there to pick up the pieces...

          • I forget,

            which election did Michael Widmer run in?

            • Duh, that's not my point

              I'm implying that there are parties such as Michael Widmer and MTF who collude with the likes of DiMasi and Jack Connors and Bill Van Faasen and Clevel Killingsworth and Jim Mongan and oh, never mind

              Maybe former House Chair of the Health Care Finance Committee, Patricia Walrath, now that she's retired, would care to shed a little light on the public statement she made to a group of 7 healthcare reform activists a few years ago in her office, when she stated "No [health care] law gets passed without the approval of the insurance industry"..and then a few months later we get a "landmark" law mandating the purchase of private insurance--with new public spending in the hundreds of millions to subsidize said purchases. Ask DiMasi and Widmer if they had any chats about that breakthrough "public policy".

              Connect the dots.

        • That is what we all say

          The electorate in this state needs to realize that constituent services is part of an elected official's duty. They aren't doing you favors, they're doing their job.

  14. What a chump

    -Cash rich deal, Vitale get $600K, McDonough gets $300K, and the Speaker gets $57K. What's the rule?  If you steal, steal big so it's at least worth the risk.  What a chump.  Going down for $57K, while your pals argue they were earning a legal commission.

    -Crooked politicians and Progressive politics in Massachusetts.  Bootleggers and Baptists..

    -Ethics reform.  What, the rule: "don't accept bribes" isn't enough?  Kinda like gun control.  Make the rules complicated enough so it's a pain in the ass for honest people to run for office and you're left with crooks. Or incompetence.  Or, in DiMasi's case, incompetent crooks.

    -Apologists.  "he voted for progressive causes..." bullshit.  Translation:  he may be a crook but he's our crook.

  15. Well I am sick over this

    Couple this event with the pabulum in the Proposed democratic Platform and we wonder why we get the government we deserve. Few people are willing to stand behind a line in the sand and not budge. Shame on us all for allowing it, yes all, when have you taken up not just critizing the system here on a blog but gotten up and out and walked and knocked for a candidate who demonstrated true integrity. I can say from personal experience working for candidates of great moral character we usually lose because we can't generate the support necessary because there is nothing glamorous about high moral character. On rare occasions we do win and that is what keeps volunteer political junkies going.

    Did any one catch NPR's report this AM, if you did I would suggest that Leslie Kirwin should receive the next Kennedy Profiles in Courage award for trying to stop this in it's track and Chief of Staff David Morales deserves the Fickle Finger of Fate award and a long furlough for defending Sal and standing in the way of Leslie's objections. Look's like this has reached all the way into the governors administration how sad is that.

    http://www.wbur.org/2009/06/03... Listen to the whole piece it is shocking And has any one seen the proposed party Platform you want to see a continuation of government run amok try the statement in the Preamble

    We want a transparent and ethical government

    Section X Ethics and Transparency in Government

    is almost as generic with the statement

    c) Comprehensive ethics and Campaign reform.

    Could you really get any more generic then those statements?

    How about language like,

    Democrat goal is

    the establishment of an independent Ethics Commission with subpoena power to over see all branches of government.

    Democrat goal is to see legislation enacted to strip all retirement and campaign accounts of candidates convicted of a State or Federal crime or crimes that occurred in Office while in office.

    Or maybe we need a line that establishes a Political Internal Affairs Department whose funding is guaranteed by statute and is completely independent and appointed by the State Supreme Judicial Court not any political wing of Government.

    It is a sad day for Massachusetts and those in the House and Senate who do behave in a high moral standard now tainted by Members who cannot follow social rules. I do feel sorry for them they have to walk those halls with the stench that now hangs over them all.

    Let see if the Governor is a man of his word and deals with the issue currently on the table regarding his office.  

     

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Wed 22 Oct 2:20 AM