Lawyering up on Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill lawmakers are lawyering up as state and federal investigators probe hiring practices at the Massachusetts Probation Department.
Campaign finance records indicate a number of lawmakers identified as frequent sponsors of job candidates at the Probation Department have hired lawyers using money from their political accounts. The payments don’t specify why the lawyers were hired, but the fees come at a time when nervousness about the probation investigations is reaching a fever pitch on Beacon Hill.
Sen. Mark Montigny, who was identified in independent counsel Paul Ware’s 2010 report as the lawmaker who referred the most people for probation jobs, used his credit card last year to pay $11,000 to K&S Inc. of Framingham for “public relations, political/legal strategy.” He paid the firm another $16,000 in fees during the two months surrounding the Ware report’s release. The New Bedford Democrat, who did not return phone calls, was reimbursed by his campaign account.
Kiley declined comment about DiMasi and his other clients, but made clear where he stands on any bid by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office to criminalize efforts by lawmakers to land jobs for constituents. “If you show me an elected person who doesn’t take steps to assist his constituents in getting jobs, I won’t vote for that person. I think that’s part and parcel of their job,” Kiley said. “How did the US attorney get her job?”
Other lawmakers who used campaign cash last year to pay for legal services include Rep. Thomas Petrolati of Ludlow, who has retained John Pucci; Sen. Jack Hart of Boston, who retained Nutter, McLennen & Fish; and former House speaker Thomas Finneran, who hired Paul Hynes at about the same time Finneran was called to testify before the federal grand jury.
Former state senator Joan Menard, who has been working as a vice president at Bristol Community College in Fall River since January 2011, reported payments last year from her campaign account to Donaghue, Barrett, and Singal of Boston and K&S Inc. of Framingham for legal services.
Conor Yunits, who works at the Liberty Square Group, a Boston-based political consulting and lobbying firm, said Menard consults lawyers about campaign activities from time to time. When it was pointed out that Menard has been out of politics for more than a year, Yunits said the former senator is not going to comment on why she is retaining attorneys. Yunits said he was acting as a spokesman for Menard because she serves on an advisory board of Liberty Square.Senate President Therese Murray retained Collora LLP. She declined to say why she hired Collora, but said it’s not uncommon for her to use campaign funds for legal work unrelated to her job as Senate president.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s campaign account made payments to Mintz Levin attorney Robert Popeo in 2009 and 2010, but reported no fees for legal services in 2011. Popeo said the speaker cooperated with the independent counsel’s report, but is not a target of the federal criminal investigation.