The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Deval Patrick's Pork-Barrel Politics

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


When Governor Deval Patrick (D-Mass.) campaigned for the office, he pledged to change Beacon Hill’s “politics as usual.”  Unfortunately for the taxpayers of Massachusetts, his three month term has been anything but. 

Eyebrows were first raised when the governor backed away from campaign promises to reduce property taxes, put 1,000 new police officers on the streets, and cut waste in the budget, just a few weeks after the election.  One of his first acts as governor was to reverse previous Gov. Mitt Romney (R)’s $383 million in emergency budget cuts, while announcing a $1 billion budget shortfall, after previous predictions of a surplus.  In an attempt to increase revenues, Gov. Patrick’s budget proposes allowing towns to increase meal and lodging taxes and closing tax loopholes – essentially a tax increase on business.

But policy isn’t the only area the new governor has been a disappointment in.  Almost every week has brought new charges of wasteful spending and abuse of power.  In January, he planned an elaborate $1.3 million four day inaugural extravaganza – the most expensive in state history.

Soon after, it came out that he had used a taxpayer funded State Police helicopter for routine travel twice in one month while pledging to continue to use it as he saw fit.  In contrast, Gov. Romney only used the helicopter once in his entire four year term.  In 2000, Gov. Jane Swift (R) was attacked by political opponents and the media and brought up to the ethics committee when she used a helicopter to go to her home in western Massachusetts for Thanksgiving after an official appearance in Boston; she was later cleared of ethical violations.

Gov. Patrick was also found to be bilking taxpayers on the ground.  In mid-February, the Boston media exploded with more stories of excess. 

Gov. Patrick upgraded from Gov. Romney’s use of the Ford Crown Victoria to the more luxurious $46,000 Cadillac DTS – a lease increase of $543 per month.  He rewarded his campaign finance committee co-chair Amy Gorin, with a $72,000 job as his wife’s scheduler.  Diane Patrick, a partner at one of Boston's largest law firms, must certainly already have a personal secretary or at least the means to procure her own.

Further angering taxpayers, The Boston Globe printed a list of furniture expenditures from the Governor’s Office:

  • 2 couches, Cabot House $4,470
  • Draperies, Boston Window Design $12,306.35
  • 2 wing chairs, Baker Knapp & Tubbs $3,870.36
  • Desk, Oak Hollow Antiques $1,650.
  • Sideboard, Oak Hollow Antiques $1,395
  • Sideboard, Patriot Warehouse $1,000
  • 3 lamps and shades, Neena's/Stuart Swan $1,074.15
  • Sofa table, Thomasville $486
  • Shipping and handling $1,136

Total: $27,387

After initially stonewalling amid increasing public outcry, Gov. Patrick finally admitted on February 21, “We really screwed up.”  He offered a bizarre explanation that appeared to blame the media more than his own actions:

I think it's very important to me that you in the media help me get the message out about what it is we are concentrating on.  That is what the public needs to know about and what it is we are working on, and unless I get this off your screen, then I don't think we're going to be able to get that done.

He promised to reimburse the office redecoration and the increase in Cadillac payments out of his own pocket, acknowledging that he could not ask state agencies to cut their budgets without making some changes of his own.   

But the Massachusetts governor was not out of the woods yet.  On March 3, it was reported that Gov. Patrick filed a bill that would benefit a project two of his aides had worked on in the past.  The aides recused themselves from further involvement. 

The Boston Globe revealed on March 6, that Gov. Patrick personally interceded in a financial deal on behalf of Ameriquest Mortgage, of which is a former board director.  He called a top official at Citigroup to help his former company receive financial assistance.  Ameriquest is a controversial subprime lender and Gov. Patrick had been criticized for his dealings in the past.  He apologized for the phone call, but even his core supporters were deeply rattled by this improper and possibly unethical behavior.  The Massachusetts Republican Party has filed ethics charges.

On March 10, The Boston Globe reported that the spouse of an important ally of Gov. Patrick was appointed commissioner of the Department of Industrial Accidents.  Although Paul Buckley was said to be qualified for the $108,964 position because of his legal background, some suspect his appointment was a political favor to his wife, state Sen. Marian Walsh (D), a strong supporter of the governor.  Mr. Buckley already receives a $80,000 pension and is older than 70.

On the evening of March 10, the governor announced that he would scale back his work schedule to be with his family as his wife battled exhaustion and depression.  Later in the week, her controversial aide, Gorin, stepped down.

Even for Taxachusetts Gov. Patrick’s behavior has been bad.  As of March 12, his approval rating had flipped from 63-25 percent approval on February 12, to 43-47 percent.

Gov. Patrick’s first three months in office have been a parade of wasteful missteps and ethical blunders.  Or, as they call it in Massachusetts, politics as usual.

-- Alexa Moutevelis

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