DeLeo slams Murphy as illogical, untruthful
Statement a sign of Probation trial’s political fallout
In a statement issued after 5 p.m. on Friday, House Speaker Robert DeLeo called a former top lieutenant “illogical” and “untruthful” for testifying that DeLeo told him not to cut the budget of the Probation Department in fiscal 2010.
Charles Murphy, the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, testified on Wednesday at the trial of former Probation commissioner John O’Brien that he had been planning a cut of about 10 percent in the Probation budget for fiscal 2010. The Great Recession had crippled the national economy and state tax revenues were plummeting, forcing across-the-board cuts in state government.
But Murphy said DeLeo told him not to cut the Probation budget and Murphy said he complied. Murphy insisted his memory of DeLeo’s directive was clear, but the actual appropriation numbers didn’t back up his claim. The House cut the Probation appropriation in 2010 from what it was in 2009. Murphy couldn’t explain the discrepancy, but indicated he and the Speaker were talking about cuts from an internally generated budget number, not the previous year’s appropriation. “It wasn’t cut as much as the number I put forth,” he said of the House’s Probation appropriation for 2010.
“They did not get any special treatment. Whether it was Probation or anything in public safety, quite frankly, it was just kept in mind that public safety and the constituents of the Commonwealth were my utmost concern,” DeLeo told reporters.
But in the statement issued Friday evening DeLeo’s memory returned. He said he never told Murphy that the Probation budget “was out of bounds from cuts. Any statement to the contrary is simply untrue. Second, the public records are irrefutable and confirm the truth that, like almost all of the rest of state government, the office of the commissioner of Probation’s budget was cut substantially in fiscal year 2010.”DeLeo noted, correctly, that Probation’s final budget number that year was 14.2 percent less than what the agency received the previous year. But the Speaker’s statement is misleading because Murphy never suggested he could control the final appropriation for Probation, since that number is the outgrowth of negotiations between the House and Senate and also affected by $9 million in vetoes by Gov. Deval Patrick.
The statement from DeLeo is another sign that political fallout from the Probation trial is beginning to be felt on Beacon Hill. DeLeo earlier in the week denied claims made by a witness at the trial that DeLeo, when he was the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in 2008, had been given the opportunity to hand out jobs at Probation to House colleagues to cement votes for his race for speaker. The Speaker has never explained why he was handing out Probation jobs in the first place.