The inside games of Murray and Bump
Here’s a question for everybody out there who wants to be governor, as well as the people who are in the business of charging this first group of people several thousand dollars per month in consulting fees: If Massachusetts voters have a clear pattern of choosing political outsiders over ladder-climbing, machine-building pols, where’s the upside in playing crude politics?
Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and Auditor Suzanne Bump are today’s case studies in not helping yourself. Both have been caught in the middle of the sorts of odious power plays that tend to extinguish political ambitions, not advance them.
Murray gets taken to the woodshed today by Globe columnist Scot Lehigh, who roundly mocks the LG’s political ties to former Chelsea Housing Authority director Michael McLaughlin. A Friday Globe story detailed the relationship between Murray and McLaughlin, who has a less than savory political reputation, and whom Lehigh labels as “a scheming, manipulative, greedy, public-trust-abusing practitioner of old-style politics.” McLaughlin was “the lieutenant governor’s guy in the Merrimack Valley,’’ one source told the Globe. “They were as tight as you can get,” a legislator tells Lehigh. This, despite repeatedly being warned about the potential political repercussions of being seen bedding down with McLaughlin.
Lehigh paints a picture of Murray as a pol who trades public-sector jobs for political support. In addition to recommending McLaughlin’s son for a plum job at the Registry, Lehigh accuses Murray of “socking away loyalists and cultivating allies at the many housing authorities across the state.” Now is as good a time as any to note that Boston magazine’s Murray profile was titled “Hack in Action.”
The question for Murray is, what’s the benefit of hitching your political star to the Mike McLaughlins of the world? There’s a strong current in Massachusetts politics that rejects machine-based establishment candidates for the state’s highest offices. Deval Patrick, Mitt Romney, Bill Weld, and Scott Brown all fit this narrative. The roster of failed ladder-climbing establishment-type candidates is equally compelling. Just ask Guy Glodis, or any of the recent travelers in the Middlesex DA to Attorney General to Higher Office TBD pipeline.
Enter Suzanne Bump. The new state auditor has worked very hard to dispel the caricature that she was painted with during last fall’s campaign — that she’s a party hack who’s mostly intent on looking out for her friends, and advancing her own political star while she’s at it. Bump has shined up her image by going after her predecessor Joe DeNucci, who was partially responsible for landing her on the Democratic ballot in the first place. Bump has made it clear that DeNucci ran an inefficient, hack-laden operation, and that she’s not interested in following suit.
Still, today’s Herald splash makes Bump look like anything but a crusading reformer. The paper runs with a fundraising appeal from a Bump supporter, who hits up several charities for donations by noting, “The State Auditor is one of the organizations that is responsible for regulatory compliance of your organization.” It turns out that some of the charities that received the fundraising invitation are either being audited, or are in line for an audit soon. One recipient tells the paper that the fundraising appeal “makes me extremely uncomfortable, and I know it’s made a number of my members extremely uncomfortable. It has all the aspects of a potential conflict of interest, and I think it’s very poor judgment. … If it’s legal in Massachusetts, I’m not sure it should be.” Bump says she was unaware of the solicitation and doesn’t accept money from groups she’s auditing.
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