Steve Grossman Wouldn’t Go Changing State Ethics Laws

Though they've hampered the campaign of his rival, they're no obstacle to him, he says.

By suspending his campaign to hash out his Ethics Commission ordeal, Democrat Dan Wolf may have thought he was stepping out of the political ring. Not in Massachusetts.

Treasurer Steven Grossman, also running for governor, tossed a couple of jabs Wolf’s way on talk radio while boasting about his own transparency. Grossman, a minority owner in Grossman Marketing Group, told Boston Herald Radio that the ethics law so nettlesome for Wolf and other business backers isn’t a burden for him. He responded to those that complain that it shuts out anyone with business experience from holding political office:

 People say, we need common-sense solutions and people who met payroll, hired people, created jobs, and borrowed money and done all the things people do. For me it’s not been a challenge. It’s not been a problem. I got elected. I went to the ethics commission … For me it’s fine.

Grossman, who declined to directly address Wolf’s kerfuffle with the Ethics Commission, nevertheless weighed in with his thoughts about changes to the ethics law:

There are people who will definitely want to take a look at this law and see if it deserves to be changed. I do think the more you can avoid any conflicts or the perceptions of conflicts…The public is very cynical about politicians in any way, shape, or form for a whole variety or reasons. I think anything we can do to fence off politicians and avoid conflicts, we should do. That to me is an ironclad principle.

A Wolf spokesman declined comment on Grossman’s interview.

The ethics law affects Wolf and Grossman differently, as we reported, because Grossman is an employee whereas Wolf writes laws. Also, Grossman said his sons, who now run Grossman Marketing Group, agree the company won’t continue to do business with the state if he’s elected governor.

Grossman said as governor “you have an obligation not to have any financial interest” that could create a conflict.

 If you become Governor-elect or the day after you become Governor-elect, you make plans to make sure that the people of this Commonwealth can trust that you have no conflicts of any kind. And if your business does any business with the Commonwealth and you’re the governor and you oversee most of anything in the Commonwealth, you have an obligation not to have any financial interest of any kind that might in some way create a financial interest. That’s the bottom line.

Wolf owns 23 percent of Cape Air, which flies into Logan Airport through contracts with Massport. The Ethics Commission ruled that Wolf ran afoul of the state conflict of interest law and advised he had until Sept. 2 to either divest his stake, end Cape Air’s contracts with Massport or resign from the state Senate. Wolf contends selling the shares would hurt the company, which he built from the tarmac up 25 years ago. The commission, which in its Aug. 2 option suggested he put the shares in an irrevocable trust, has granted an extension to Sept. 19 to hear an appeal.