With the conflict of interest conviction of former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi last week, transparency in government is once again front and center. But no one seems to have informed current Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Murray or Governor Patrick.
The Boston Globe pointed out yesterday that Speaker DeLeo stood outside his office last week and declared that Beacon Hill has become “a whole lot more transparent than it’s ever been.” Just two days earlier, however, DeLeo, Murray and Patrick met behind closed doors to come to a compromise to bring expanded predatory gambling to Massachusetts. One legislator admitted to the Globe that his only confirmation about the current gambling negotiations came from news reports.
“The public’s entitled to more, particularly now,” said Scott Harshbarger, a Democrat, referring to the embarrassment caused by DiMasi’s conviction. “If the only way you can do this is getting a deal behind closed doors, it strikes me as tone deaf.”
I wholeheartedly agree with the former attorney general. When only a few decision-makers are making the deal, special interests have even more influence. The gambling industry has spent millions of dollars in the past year on campaign contributions, front groups, friendly researchers, lobbyists and media. As our friends at USS Mass explain: “That pays for the distorted message that more people losing money is good for the economy and good for job creation.”
Please take a moment to email your legislators. Tell them you oppose these closed-door meetings on such an important issue. Tell them you oppose expanding predatory gambling without an unbiased cost and benefit analysis. Forever changing the fabric of our state by introducing a casino culture is far too important to expect any less.