The scandal dripping out of Gov. Charlie Baker’s hack hiring hall continued today with an explosive report from the Boston Herald alleging that Baker loyalists within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs “harassed and retaliated against” a state employee after her fiancé announced a challenge to a sitting Republican State Senator.
Cynthia Lewis, the target of Baker’s hack vigilantes (hackilantes?), has lawyered up.
But according to a “cease and desist” demand letter sent by her former attorneys to the EEA’s legal counsel, and obtained by the Herald, she was “subject to harassment, threats, coercion and intimidation” by Baker appointees in an attempt to get Parker-O’Grady to call off his Democratic challenge to Humason.
The letter says “within an hour” after Parker-O’Grady announced his campaign on Facebook, Lewis was contacted by EEA “personnel officer” Jared Valanzola, a failed GOP legislative candidate whose cousin Michael Valanzola, another failed GOP candidate, was appointed by Baker as chief operating officer at the agency.
“Jared informed Ms. Lewis that (Michael) Valanzola was disgusted with her, suggested she break off her engagement with Mr. Parker-O’Grady, and ominously stated that if Mr. Parker-O’Grady cared about Ms. Lewis’s career he would not turn in the nomination papers,” the letter states.
“Jared specifically told Ms. Lewis that ‘the Administration’ was unhappy and that if Mr. Parker-O’Grady continued his run, her career with the state would be over …”
According to the Herald, the letter from Lewis’ lawyers has sparked an internal investigation within the Baker Administration.
It’s now clear that something is rotten within the Baker Administration. Internal investigations and one-off stories about this hack or that hack aren’t enough to find out what is going on.
It’s time for the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture to open an immediate investigation into the patronage and abuse of the taxpayer’s trust that appear to be running rampant within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Late last month, an investigative report from WCVB exposed an illegal party thrown for high-ranking Massachusetts Republican Party officials in July that was organized by top officials at DCR. Those officials apparently directed state employees to organize the party while at work, and used state employees and resources to provide transportation to party guests.
A guest list obtained by State House News Service shortly after that report found that many of Gov. Baker’s top aides, allies and appointees were invited to the party, and therefore had advanced knowledge of it. Reporting from other local news outlets in the wake of this scandal has identified a number of politically-connected staffers working in the upper echelons of EOEEA and DCR.
Last week, the Herald found that Baker’s former campaign driver is earning a six-figure salary as the head of the Environmental Police. Cynthia Lewis worked for him.
As a co-equal branch of government, it is the responsibility of the legislature to provide oversight of the Baker Administration. There is more than enough reasonable cause to suspect that Gov. Baker has revived the bad old days of the MDC, when it was known as a haven for patronage.
If the important work that state agencies charged with protecting our natural resources and promoting tourism has been negatively impact by the shenanigans of unqualified, but politically-connected staff, our elected representatives in the legislature have an obligation to investigate and remedy the problem.