Dan Wolf’s Senate Tenure Just Got a Little Bit Longer

Wolf won’t resign from the state Senate tomorrow, but his campaign for Massachusetts governor remains suspended.

Democrat Dan Wolf won’t resign his state Senate seat tomorrow as planned after getting a reprieve this afternoon from the state Ethics Commission, according to the campaign.

The Cape and Islands Democrat announced the state Ethics Commission is extending the deadline for him to comply with its August 2 ruling, allowing him to file an appeal on September 19, the next time the commission meets.

The Ethics Commission had ruled that his Cape Air contracts and stock holdings are in conflict with state law, and that he must resign from the Senate, sell his stock, or relinquish the contracts to satisfy the law.

Wolf could have gone to Superior Court to appeal the ruling, but earlier this month he said he preferred not to do that. Instead, he said yesterday he asked the Ethics Commission to allow him to make his case at their September 19 meeting, and they agreed, according to a campaign press release.

Wolf, in that statement, goes on to say he’ll submit new evidence of why he is not in conflict with state law, and make that public before the hearing.

As I informed the Commission, I intend to join with a group of civic minded people to petition the Commission to adopt a regulation that would allow and even encourage citizens from many walks of life to enter public service while protecting the public from any potential conflicts or undue influence. Although the petition does not take issue with the Commission’s interpretation and application of section 7 of the conflict of interest law, the Commission nevertheless has agreed to consider the petition and extend my compliance deadline.

This petition will be submitted to the Commission in advance of September 19 and provided to the public after it is provided to the Commission.

In recent days, pressure has built on the Ethics Commission to act. Common Cause of Massachusetts, an ethic watchdog, called Wolf’s conflict of interest “minimal” and suggested Wolf might deserve an exemption. Business ethicists and state lawmakers have worried the strict ruling would discourage business owners from running for state office in Massachusetts. And Cape Codders planned a State House rally to show their support a day before Wolf was to step down.

A commission spokesman declined to comment on the appeal.

The Ethics Commission found Wolf violated the conflict of interest law because he was a state lawmaker whose company had contracts with the state.

In a passionate Facebook post, Wolf explained he chose to resign his Senate seat rather than divest himself of stock or cancel Massport contracts, moves he said would cripple the company he founded 25 years ago.

Wolf has put his campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination on hold so he could resolve the uncertainty raised by the ethics ruling. He said until the commission’s ruling on his appeal

… I will remain as State Senator for the Cape and Islands with hopes of a positive resolution to this matter, which would also allow me to resume my gubernatorial campaign.

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