Mystery figure in Crosby ethics probe revealed
Letter writer worked for rivals of Wynn Resorts
THE MYSTERY FIGURE who spurred a state ethics investigation of Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby turns out to be Charles A. Baker III, a lawyer and top Democratic political operative who last year represented rivals of Wynn Resorts in the hunt for a Greater Boston casino license.
Baker sent a letter to the State Ethics Commission on Oct. 1 last year alleging that “it has come to my attention that” Crosby, despite recusing himself in May from any involvement in choosing a Greater Boston casino licensee, continued to participate in the selection process. Baker said Crosby’s activities violated various state laws and “may result in the necessity of a rescission and/or cancellation” of the casino license award to Wynn Resorts.
CommonWealth obtained the Baker letter from the Gaming Commission on Wednesday via a public records request submitted on June 23. The letter was addressed to Karen Nober, the executive director of the Ethics Commission, with copies sent to Karen Wells, director of the Gaming Commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, and Patrick Hanley, chief of the attorney general’s gaming enforcement division.
Baker said in his letter that he intended to keep its existence confidential. “Please know that I do not intend either to provide a copy of this letter to anyone other than the individuals indicated below or to make public the fact that I have sent it,” he wrote.
The Globe story focused heavily on how the allegations in the letter paralleled claims contained in a lawsuit filed by the city of Boston against the Gaming Commission alleging favoritism toward Wynn by Crosby and other officials.
At the time he wrote his letter to the Ethics Commission, Baker was an attorney with DLA Piper LLP in Boston. He represented Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, the owner of Suffolk Downs, as an attorney and previously as a lobbyist. His job entailed working closely with the racetrack’s gambling partner Mohegan Sun, which lost out to Wynn in the casino sweepstakes. Mohegan Sun wanted to build a casino on racetrack land in Revere.
Baker is now the chief administrative officer for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. He could not be reached for comment.
Eight days after its original story, the Globe reported that the Ethics Commission had closed its investigation of Crosby. In that story, the Globe reported that the letter that launched the investigation was dated Oct. 1, 2014. Five days after the June 18 story on the ethics complaint’s dismissal, Crosby told reporters after a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce that he knew who had sent the letter.
“We were copied originally on the complaint nine months ago, so we know,” he said, declining to name the person.Asked if the letter writer was someone affiliated with any of the groups suing the Gaming Commission (Boston, Somerville, Revere, and Mohegan Sun) in an effort to overturn the award of a casino license to Wynn, Crosby said: “I’m not going to go there. I’m trying to get out of fights, not into fights. We just want to do our jobs. We just want to have a transparent process, make the best decisions we can. If other people want to squawk, that’s their business.”
Asked for details about the allegations against him, Crosby declined to go into specifics or reveal what the Ethics Commission asked him about. “What I was asked was sort of revealed in the outcome,” he said. “There was nothing to the complaint. There was no evidence. The handful of questions I was asked were indicative to the outcome. There was no evidence. There was nothing there.”