Another HHS Problem for Deval Patrick, Public Health Commissioner’s Conflict on Marijuana

Deval Patrick has another scandal brewing in his Health and Human Services department.  It is something that the Massachusetts Republican Party tried warning about before it happened, and now after the fact the Globe has picked up on it.

The Department of Public Health Commissioner was the sole person responsible for picking medical marijuana licensees.  The Commissioner, Cheryl Bartlett, was a fundraiser and friend of former Democratic Congressman Bill Delahunt. Delahunt was awarded three of the medical marijuana licenses earlier this year.

The state public health commissioner held two fund-raisers in 2005 and 2006 for then-US Representative William Delahunt, a fact she failed to disclose until her agency was in the final weeks of reviewing applications from the former congressman and dozens of others to operate medical marijuana dispensaries.

Cheryl Bartlett said on the conflict-of-interest disclosure form filed Dec. 31 that she would be selecting the license winners. But two weeks later, her deputy, the new director of the state medical marijuana program, was granted the authority to make the final decision. At the end of January, Delahunt’s group was awarded three of the coveted 20 licenses that were issued.

Bartlett, who became commissioner last June, had previously acknowledged that she donated to Delahunt’s campaign in 2007 and that the two attended charity events to raise money for AIDS patients and homeless people. But the form obtained by the Globe shows she also hosted political fund-raisers for Delahunt in 2005 and 2006.

The ties to Delahunt are raising eyebrows of competitors, given the success of his firm, Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, in gaining all three licenses it sought, when no other firm got more than two.

In crony Massachusetts, it is not whether or not you are qualified to do anything. It is who you know.  That is the legacy of Deval Patrick and the 21 years of supermajority Democratic rule.  

About Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno