Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Sunday, October 25, 2009
  Odd Arrangement
Last Thursday my phone rang and I noticed the Caller ID said "Freedman DeRosa." I answered thinking it was a business call, but was surprised to hear a volunteer calling on behalf of the Barrett Campaign asking if they "could count on [my] vote on November 3rd?"

It struck me as not-quite-kosher that the city solicitor's firm's office was being used by the sitting mayor's re-election campaign. But then again, if the mayor was paying for the use of the office space to host a "calling party" it probably would pass the strictly legal smell test. (I've been reading waaaaay too many regulations on campaign finance since I decided to run for city council.)

But I see that the Topix cranks have gotten their teeth into this and, for what it's worth, they make some valid points about the appearance of impropriety.

So, what do you think?

Is it proper for the City Solicitor's private law firm to host a calling party for the incumbent mayor's re-election bid?

I don't think that I would have done it had I been in either the mayor's or the firm's position. The simple appearance of a conflict of interest alone would have led me to search for another set of phones.
As a critic and sometime journalist, it does make it sort of pointless for me to pay for my own coffee or meal when talking with candidates to avoid the appearance of being bought.

Then a company that is retained by the city for the people's business uses its offices and phones for the incumbent's campaign? Seems to be rather unprincipled and contemptuous of what the pubic might think. These are lawyers? Remarkably unprofessional if you ask me.
I'm super-sensitive to these issues because of my work with drug companies and with the gov't.

There's a reality-check issue with local politics, especially in a small town. Long-term friendships and family relations make it hard to keep things idealistically pure. So while I agree that this smells weird, maybe it's worth giving them a pass.

The concepts of "transparency" and "conflict of interest" are evolving with the internet ... interesting times, indeed.
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