Wolf: Ethics ruling bars run for governor

Cape Air conflict could also cost him Senate job

Sen. Dan Wolf, who represents the Cape and islands, issued the following statement on Wednesday indicating he plans to continue pursuing a gubernatorial candidacy despite an Ethics Commission ruling suggesting he faces a conflict of interest because of his ownership of Cape Air.

BOSTON – August 7, 2013 – Twenty-five years ago, as a young mechanic and pilot, a handful of people joined me to start an airline. With one plane, six employees, and one route, we created Cape Air. Today Cape Air is an employee-owned company with more than 1000 people, still headquartered in Massachusetts, serving communities around the world. I brought that entrepreneurial spirit and a commitment to doing the right thing to the State Senate and my recently announced candidacy for Governor.

As I was contemplating running for Governor this spring my office contacted the State Ethics Commission – out of an abundance of caution – to get their opinion on whether there would be any plausible conflicts between my ownership stake in Cape Air (approximately 20% of the company) and serving as Governor. An initial conversation with State Ethics Commission staff led me to believe that no such conflict would exist, reiterating an informal opinion regarding the State Senate before I was first elected in 2010. In addition, my filings to the Ethics Commission in the years since have clearly stated my holdings and relationship to Cape Air, which never have been flagged as an area of concern.

Unfortunately, I was informed by the Commission on Friday afternoon, August 2, that in their opinion the fact that Cape Air flies in and out of Logan, with agreements with Massport to do so, creates a conflict that can only be fixed either by Cape Air no longer serving Logan Airport – which would destroy the company — or by me completely divesting all interest in a company I spent 25 years building from the ground up. In the Commission’s opinion, short of taking one of these drastic steps, I could not serve as Governor and also would have to resign as State Senator.

The two Cape Air agreements with Massport in question date back to 2002. They automatically renew month-to-month and year-to-year respectively. The fees paid by Cape Air are not negotiated but are set by Massport in accordance with Federal regulations and apply to all airlines flying in and out of Logan. Neither Cape Air nor Massport have taken any affirmative action on these agreements since 2002.

Let me be clear: Massport took no affirmative action on these contracts while I was a State Senator and Cape Air took no action on these contracts while I was State Senator. There is no discretion to do so, based on federal standards and requirements.

Regardless of these facts, the Commission now holds that Cape Air’s involvement with Logan Airport through Massport precludes my continuing to serve as Senator and would prevent my serving as Governor.

This opinion, a full copy of which is attached, would prevent any successful businessperson who may have even tangential business interaction with the state from entering public life.

Meet the Author

Dan Wolf

Senator, Massachusetts Senate
I disagree with this opinion and will be working to rectify what I believe to be an unfortunate conclusion based on a flawed process. And so I look forward to maintaining my ambitious campaign schedule and having an open, transparent conversation with the voters about this and every issue, continuing a dialogue that already is garnering grassroots support across the state.

I got into this race for Governor believing that we can make a real difference in the lives of working families that have been left behind in this economy. I still believe that. I look forward to sharing that message across the Commonwealth.