Rep. Thomas Petrolati Trying to Block Investigation of the Probation Patronage Scandal

Thomas Petrolati

The Globe on Sunday has a very important article about Rep. Thomas Petrolati’s attempts to thwart the investigation into the patronage scandal at the probation department.

Petrolati is at the center of some of the most egregious patronage abuses. His wife Kathleen is a top manager at Probation. A former aide, Andre Pereira, and the husband of his current aide, Colleen Ryan all have Probation jobs that pay more than $74,000.  Scores of financial supporters have also received jobs at the Probation Department. And Petrolati is a close friend of Probation Commissioner John “Jack” O’Brien, who was suspended in May after the Globe revealed a pattern of political favoritism in hiring.

Independent counsel Paul Ware has ordered Petrolati to answer questions related to his efforts to secure patronage jobs for his friends, family and political supporters. Petrolati is refusing to answer on the grounds that Ware is exceeding his authority. Petrolati argues that Ware should not be able to subpoena a member of the Legislature and  that doing so would provoke a “constitutional crisis.”

It is almost like Petrolati is claiming that there is some kind of legislative immunity. Legislators are at the center of the patronage scandal. To investigate it properly, Ware has to be able to question legislators like Petrolati. If Petrolati’s challenge to Ware fails, it will open the doors to investigations of more legislators.

This does not impact elections directly yet, as Petrolati does not have a challenger in this election. But several other legislators, who are implicated in the scandal, do have contested elections, including Sen. Steven Baddour, whose wife works at Probation and Rep. Mike Rush who managed among other things to get his father promoted to Chief Probation Officer. Earlier this year, Rush tried with the help of House Speaker Robert DeLeo, to get Chief Justice Robert Mulligan’s office moved to a disused attic in Charlestown District Court. This move helped spark the showdown between the Judiciary and the Legislature.

Voters should be asking themselves also why Attorney General Martha Coakley has not been more involved in the investigation. We would not need a special counsel if Coakley had already been investigating the scandal.

Voters should also be asking themselves why the chairmen of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty, blocked a move by Governor Deval Patrick to reform Probation Department hiring earlier this year, and why they were unable to pass meaningful reforms before the end of the legislative year.

Immediately after the scandal was first reported in the Globe, Senate President Therese Murray, House Speaker Thomas DeLeo and Governor Deval Patrick met to discuss what to do – if anything. In typical Beacon Hill style – the meeting was short, 30 minutes, not open to the public, and resulted in no action. This is not surprising as Robert DeLeo’s own godson, Brian Mirasolo, is the state’s youngest Chief Probation Officer.

One comment

  • Chuckwagoncanteen
    August 31, 2010 - 1:26 am | Permalink

    Slime….Slime….. Slime………. I am so sick of these egocentric bullshit artists getting elected to office. People wake up.

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