The Globe’s Obsession With the Ethics of Sal DiMasi’s Golf Game

To hear the Globe tell it, Sal DiMasi is in trouble. Yesterday, the paper reported that the Speaker has been golfing with Suffolk Downs co-owner Joe O’Donnell and entertained an invitation from Donald Trump. The daily follows up today with a story about the Republicans calling for the State Ethics Commission to investigate DiMasi’s golfing partners.

But even if the party on the other side of the aisle hadn’t called for an investigation, one probably would have started anyway. The Massachusetts Ethics Commission tends to investigate the stories it finds in the press.

According to the Ethics Commission website, it can both review complaints that are filed, or it can launch its own investigation.

Complaints may also be generated by the Enforcement Division staff through their reviews of media reports and other information.

Back in November, the Commission started an investigation of Mayor Tom Menino after scorned library president Bernard Margolis told the Globe that Menino’s staffers attempted to dictate who was hired at the BPL. The mayor’s office refuted Margolis’ claims. The Ethics Commission keeps its investigations confidential, so we don’t know how the complaint is progressing.

DiMasi says he deserves praise for turning down a game with Trump, and doesn’t see why golfing with a friend is a big deal. Even his expression in the photo accompanying the Globe’s story screams “You’ve got to be kidding.”

“Nobody is paying for my golfing, and there’s no reason I can’t play with people I’ve known for a long time,” DiMasi said. “It’s not like this came up because the casino bill was filed this year. This was something that happens all the time.”

It sure is. Even the Globe references DiMasi’s golf game when covering him, as Paul McMorrow reminds us.

[W]hen a Globe columnist graded DiMasi’s first year running the House, the writer did it not by recapping his legislative record, but by detailing the improvement in his golf game: DiMasi had shaved two and a half strokes off his handicap.

The daily did it again in yesterday’s story.

In fact, DiMasi is a famously avid golfer who sports an 8.2 handicap at his home course, Ipswich Country Club.

The regular play allowed him to cut his handicap index from an 8.1 to a 5.7 – a reduction that United States Golf Association officials lauded as highly unusual.

Hey, you don’t get better if you don’t play, and DiMasi had been golfing with O’Donnell long before the casino proposals were but a twinkle in Gov. Deval Patrick’s eye.

Photo by John Goodman.