Earlier this week, WCVB reported that two high-ranking members of Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration used public funds to throw a party for prominent Massachusetts Republican Party officials at the Back Bay home of Republican National Committeeman Ron Kaufman.
The party was organized by Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy and his deputy, Matthew Sisk. In addition to directing DCR employees on state-own golf carts to shuttle guests between the tony abode and the Boston Pops’ July 3rd rehearsal performance on the Hatch Shell, the Herald notes:
Roy and Sisk also used state staffers to compile the guest list, create invitations and make phone calls for the party, which Kirsten Hughes, the state party chair, and state Rep. Keiko Orrall, the party’s national committeewoman, both attended.
Baker has decided that he will not fire Roy or Sisk, but he has suspended them for one whole week. Seemingly unconcerned with such low-level chicanery since the black guy left the corner office, the Beacon Hill press corps offered Baker a swift round of back pats for taking action so earnestly after a TV station uncovered the matter.
Based on past performance, Baker should have every reason to believe that the remainder of the State House press corps that has not been absorbed into his administration will let this mini-scandal go. If anyone starts pulling the threads on this one, though, Baker’s DCR hack hiring hall could unravel.
Let’s start with Matthew Sisk, the ringleader of this taxpayer-funded GOP fete with no apparent qualifications relevant to DCR’s mission. Sisk is a member of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee.
Earlier this year, Baker won a tooth-and-nail battle to install a majority of his folks on the MassGOP’s governing body. A surprising number of them have connections to DCR.
According to the State House News Service, Baker endorsed candidates for 74 of the 80 seats in the run up to the March 1st election. At least 17 of Baker’s endorsed candidates work in his administration, SHNS found.
I have found that 8 of the loyalists Baker backed are connected to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, or its parent agency, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEOEA). That’s a pretty big stack of hacks for an agency whose FY2017 budget of $131 million is just .33% of the Commonwealth’s $39 billion in spending.
Here are the DCR-connected candidates Baker pushed for the MassGOP State Committee:
- Matthew Sisk, the Deputy Commissioner of DCR and organizer of the illegal July 3rd bash
- Republican State Committeewoman Lisa Barstow is a DCR administrator.
- Republican State Committeeman Mike Case was hired earlier this year as DCR’s western regional director.
- Susan Smiley, EOEEA’s Directory of Facilities and Infrastructure, leads the GOP Women’s Club of Worcester County and was “a key member of Women for Baker,” according to the Telegram and Gazettes. Smiley won a seat on the Republican State Committee this year with Baker’s backing.
- Baker endorsed Scott Brinch, DCR’s Deputy Director for the Boston region, in his failed bid for a State Committee seat earlier this year.
- Baker also endorsed EOEEA’s Communications Director, Peter Lorenz for a State Committee race that the lost.
- Baker supported Norman Orrall, DCR’s chief engineer, in his successful run for the First Bristol and Plymouth state committee seat. Norman is also the husband of Republican National Committeewoman and State Rep. Keiko Orrall.
- Mike Valanzola, a former Republican State Senate candidate, earns six figures as the Chief Operation Officer at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. He is the brother of Republican State Committeewoman Lindsey Valanzola, who won her seat earlier this year with Baker’s backing.
In my travels through the publicly-available data today, I also came across Jared Valanzola, a Massachusetts Federation of Young Republicans official, who is a Personnel Officer at DCR and Program Manager Raymond L. Flynn, son of the former Boston Mayor, and honorary Republican, Ray Flynn.