Kevin Murphy (D-Lowell): Union client list raises ethics issues

An article in the Lowell Sun earlier this week, spotlighted why so called ethics reform is hollow.  Kevin Murphy’s continued representation of Union Clients with business before local and state government entities raises a conflict of interest that is not fixed by the new ethics statute.  

For more than 12 years, state Rep. Kevin Murphy has sought to strike a balance between his career as a private attorney and his duties, as a legislator, to the public and his Lowell constituents.

But never more so than over the past year have the mingling of his private- and public-sector careers appeared to create a conflict for the veteran lawmaker, who was re-elected last fall by his biggest margin ever over an opponent.

His representation of union clients and, perhaps more controversially, of his wife in contract negotiations with the city of Lowell, has raised questions about whether it is appropriate for a lawmaker to vote on funding for public agencies at the same time he is serving clients fighting for a piece of that funding.

Representative Murphy has many clients that are public employee unions.  As a State Representative I argue that he has a conflict of interest because he helps control the purse-strings of local aid.  While he may not bring that up directly in negotiations that elephant is always in the room.  

The Lowell Sun references current law that the Ethics Committee did not take into account that buttresses my point.

Chapter 268A, Section 23 of Massachusetts General Law states: “No current officer or employee of a state, county or municipal agency shall knowingly, or with reason to know, accept other employment involving compensation of substantial value, the responsibilities of which are inherently incompatible with the responsibilities of his public office.”

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts and a member of the commission Gov. Deval Patrick created to make recommendations on ethics reform, raised her eyebrows at Murphy’s activities outside the Statehouse but declined to discuss them specifically.

“Some of those questions were beyond our scope and fairly complex to actually responsibly address it,” Wilmot said. “I think we thought the law was broadly adequate, and you’re still not allowed to be involved in a matter (before the state) that affects your financial interest.”

About Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno

  • Definitely a conflict of interest.  Whatever happened to the notion that public service is a sacrifice, and not an opportunity to cash in at every turn?  

  • From the Boston Herald:

    Equally fed up with surging taxes is the state GOP, which this week launched a new weekly e-mail blast dubbing a Democrat “Donkey of the Week.”

    The first recipient of the dubious distinction is Rep. Kevin Murphy (D-Lowell), who was blasted for doing outside legal work for entities with business before the Legislature.

    The entire MassGOP press release is:

    “Donkey of the Week”

    Barn Yard Behavior by Massachusetts Democrats…Every Wednesday!

    BOSTON – Today Rep. Kevin Murphy has the distinct honor of being named the “Donkey of the Week” by the MassGOP.

    Rep. Murphy has a conflict of interest problem…

    According to an article in the Lowell Sun, in addition to being a full time legislator, he is also a lawyer who represents union clients in contract negotiations with the City of Lowell. So he can vote on funding for public agencies–and at the same time represent his clients who are seeking a piece of that funding.

    Several public-sector organizations are part of Rep. Murphy’s client base at his $100,000 per year Chelmsford law office.

    For example, Rep. Murphy represents the bus driver’s union in Lowell, which is in contract re-negotiation talks with the Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA.) The LRTA receives a quarter of its operating budget from state funding–which Rep. Murphy gets to vote on.

    He even represented Lowell’s four assistant school superintendents in contract renegotiations-one of which was his wife. (For which Rep. Murphy secured a $10k raise two years before his wife’s contract expired.)

    And how is this not a conflict of interest?

    According to Beacon Hill Democrats, the Ethics Reform Bill is the answer. The Bill is certainly a step in the right direction and tightens some loopholes. Yet the Ethics Bill does not change the conflict-of-interest statute that Rep. Murphy has repeatedly violated.

    More importantly, the Ethics Bill does not change the behavior of irresponsible and unethical Democrat lawmakers.

    For more on Rep. Murphy’s barnyard behavior, click here.


  • From the article from the Lowell Sun

    “There is already a strict code of conduct for lawmakers, and I don’t see any conflict between my work as an attorney and as a legislator,” Murphy said last week.

    You don’t see a conflict Mr Murphy?  Wow…are you just lying, or so naive you really don’t see it?  I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, but given those appear to be the best two available options, it doesn’t reflect well on you sir.  Could you even buy why some would consider it at least the appearance of impropriety (to be extremely generous)…can you go that far?  My GOD, how stupid have we let these people think we are?