Two More EEA Officials Are Out After Retaliation Probe
Two more top officials are to be replaced in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the latest in a cascade of scandals in the wing of the Gov. Charlie Baker administration.
Jared Valanzola, a personnel officer at the Department of Conservation and Recreation, will be fired, officials said. Michael Valanzola—who, according to the Herald is Jared’s cousin—will resign.
The moves come after results came in from a probe of allegations that EEA officials retaliated against a member of the department’s staff, whose fiancé was challenging a Republican for public office.
The investigation found that Jared Valanzola “did attempt to coerce” the staffer to “influence her fiancé,” and told her that “her employment opportunity within EEA would be adversely affected by her fiancé’s decision to run for political office.”
No “conclusive evidence” has been found linking Michael Valanzola to retaliation, but the Baker administration says it will accept his resignation because it “is necessary to restore confidence in the human resources function for the secretariat.”
A third staffer, EEA program manager Tim Sullivan, “will undergo appropriate training” after charges that he “invaded [Lewis’] personal space while speaking with her,” but will be kept on staff.
Baker earlier called the allegations “unbelievably disturbing.”
The news comes after a series of scandals that have already resulted in the resignation of two top officials.
Matthew Sisk, former deputy commissioner of the DCR, stepped down after video showed him using his lights and sirens to avoid traffic. Baker said Tuesday the use of sirens in government vehicles was under investigation, and that his administration “had taken about 20 or 30 cars away from people.” Sisk was among two officials who were fined and briefly suspended for using government-purchased golf carts at a private party for state Republicans.
Michael Crowley, former DCR operations manager, also stepped down, but it was not immediately clear why.
Baker has previously answered to suspicions of patronage in the EEA, when it emerged in the Boston Herald that he had picked his former campaign driver, Col. James McGinn, to head the state’s environmental police, a post with a salary of $130,484.
Baker addressed reporters Wednesday following the release of the EEA probe’s findings.
“The first thing I would say is that we have a very bipartisan administration—probably the most bipartisan administration in a long time,” Baker said. “And I take pride in that. I believe we’ve done a very good job of building a team based on their qualifications and not on the letter at the end of their name. And that’s, I believe, as it should be. And I also believe that when issues have been raised, we’ve chased them, determined whether or not they were credible, and then acted accordingly based on the evidence.”