Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Thumbs up (and a Cobblestone’s gift certificate) to The Sun and reporter Michael Lafleur for Sunday’s (May 6, 2007) story on Middlesex County Sheriff James DiPaola’s dining out habits. DiPaola’s spent almost $78,000 of his campaign funds from December 2004 to this February adding to his girth at “eat-out campaign meetings, function-hall fundraisers, staff-appreciation dinners and holiday parties,” writes Lafleur. Yum!
Lafleur scoured campaign records to detail the sheriff’s spending, eating and partying activities. Only 38 percent of his 66 visits to restaurants were at county eateries. Five were out of state, including at least one in Washington, D.C., at the posh Capital Grill.
(BTW, score one for print over the Web. The Sun runs a highly informative graphic, which lists six restaurants where DiPaola entertained, including how much he spent and why. Only two, Ristorante Saraceno in Boston’s North End and the Woodshed in Moultonboro, N.H., are mentioned in the article. Otherwise, none of this info is on the Web page. For the full story, you still need the printed paper.)
The most important point is buried halfway through the story.
“ … spending campaign funds becomes a way of ‘padding income and sort of living a lifestyle that exceeds one’s salary,’” says Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts.
In other words, think of these campaign war chests as an aggrandized lifestyle slush fund, with a high fat and high calorie content.
For balance, Lafleur gets some defensive quotes from DiPaola’s campaign flack, Democratic political consultant Michael (“Movie Maven”) Goldman. (DiPaola won’t talk himself.) Goldman says everything’s kosher, and that the Sun overstates his boss’s food spending by $11,000. Besides, it’s the cost of doing political business: Politicians can’t raise money without spending money.
All this leads to a follow-up article The Sun should do:
As a separate legal entity, Middlesex County was legislated out of existence a decade ago, along with all the state’s other counties after a series of scandals — with the exception of the elected sheriff’s office and county jails. All other county functions were taken over by the state, if memory serves.
So why do we have an elected county jailer? What are the reasons, pro and con, for this oddball position? Get on it, Michael Lafleur.
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