Once, Twice, Three Times an Ethics Investigation

Being a Republican in Massachusetts is often a Sisyphean task, even in the best of times. But with Sal DiMasi at the helm of the House, at least the GOP has something to do.

Minority Leader Brad Jones is taking the Speaker to task for his relative indifference to the resurgence of phantom voting, insisting the state purchase new equipment that would cut down on voting irregularities. In response, DiMasi has done little more than slap wrists.

That’s not good enough, Republicans say. To make sure DiMasi gets the message, the GOP has filed three ethics complaints against King Sal in the past two months.

In February, the State Ethics Commission started an investigation into DiMasi’s golfing habits after it was revealed he hit the links with Suffolk Downs co-owner Joe O’Donnell as the casino legislation was pending. The Speaker said he’s been friends with O’Donnell for years and that nothing unsavory went down.

Last month, the Globe revealed that software company Cognos donated to a favorite DiMasi charity. Not long thereafter, Cognos received a state contract after an unusually quick bidding process. The state has since rescinded the contract, and DiMasi again said nothing untoward had transpired.

In an ironic twist, the Cognos controversy has ties to DiMasi’s latest imbroglio. Cognos was a platinum sponsor of the Harold L. Vitale Memorial Golf Tournament, which raises money for a fund named after the late brother of DiMasi’s former treasurer, Richard Vitale.

Vitale apparently has a couple of new business ventures—making absurdly low interest rate loans to DiMasi and advocating for relaxed ticket reselling rules without registering as a House lobbyist.

As the saying goes, twice is a coincidence—three times is a trend. He may be the second most powerful person in Boston, but Jones and his fellow Republicans think he should still play by the rules.

Photo by John Goodman