House candidate helped by Big Dig ties
Lobbyist held Feb. fund-raiser
By Raphael Lewis, and Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff, 04/17/2003
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handful of influential Big Dig consultants, contractors, and lobbyists have lined up behind a Braintree Democrat who's seeking to capture a seat in the state Legislature vacated by the chairman of the powerful Joint Transportation Committee.
The backers include Garrett Trierweiler, a State House lobbyist for the Big Dig's private-sector managers, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff. Trierweiler threw a fund-raiser for the candidate, Joseph Driscoll, on Feb. 27, netting $850.
Some of those Big Dig lobbyists and consultants then showed up at Driscoll's March 12 fund-raiser in Holbrook, bringing the cash infusion total from Big Dig interests to at least $1,650.
Driscoll's Republican opponent in the race, Matthew Sisk, has accused Driscoll of being "cozy" with Big Dig power brokers and those working for the project's private-sector managers, Bechtel/ Parsons Brinckerhoff.
"Joe Driscoll has a cozy relationship with people who are politically wired" at the Big Dig, Sisk said.
Driscoll, who worked from 1993 to 1998 as the chief of staff to former Transportation Committee head Joseph C. Sullivan before becoming a prosecutor, said he is not beholden in any way to Bechtel/ Parsons, or any Big Dig interest.
The topic is a sensitive one on Beacon Hill, where Governor Mitt Romney and Democratic lawmakers are seeking to recoup money lost to mistakes by Big Dig managers and contractors. Bechtel/Parsons has been accused by the state inspector general and state auditor of failing to control costs.
Driscoll said the affiliations of his backers have nothing to do with his desire to protect the public from waste and mismanagement.
"I worked in the [state attorney general's] Medicaid fraud unit," he said. "I have a proven record of fighting waste in government."
Still, Driscoll's ties to lobbyists for Bechtel/Parsons mirror those of Sullivan. The Globe reported in February that Sullivan, who departed the House earlier this year to run the state's Lottery Commission, sought political advice from a Bechtel/Parsons lobbyist.
The lobbyist, Andrew Paven, set up a meeting between Sullivan and a local pollster to help Sullivan decide whether to run for lieutenant governor. Soon afterward, Sullivan wrote legislation to expand the Turnpike Authority's board, a bill that effectively marginalized outspoken critics of Bechtel/Parsons. Sullivan denied being influenced in any way by his relationship with the lobbyist.
Driscoll's Big Dig backers include James F. O'Leary, who is a part owner of Trierweiler's lobbying firm, Massachusetts Bay Associates and a former MBTA general manager. O'Leary also owns Alternate Concepts Inc., a consulting firm whose clients include Parsons Brinckerhoff. Driscoll's campaign paid Alternate Concepts $50.93 for the reception, records show.
Other Driscoll contributors included Big Dig mega-contractor Jay Cashman; Christine Keville, who owns Keville Enterprises, which works with Bechtel/Parsons; Sean O'Neill, the Big Dig's public-relations chief; Patrick Huntington, president of Massachusetts Bay Associates; and James McGrail, who resigned as Turnpike Authority general counsel in 2000, when controversy erupted about costly overruns in the Central Artery project.
Driscoll says Sisk's allegations of coziness provide a convenient way for the Republican to distract voters from Sisk's status as "a consummate Beacon Hill insider" who worked as an aide in the administrations of Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift.
Driscoll said he is a childhood friend of O'Neill, the Big Dig's spokesman, and that he is a close personal friend of Trierweiler. Asked how they met, Driscoll said he was introduced by former Republican legislative aide Benjamin Schuler -- another contributor.
"Anyone who runs a campaign knows the hardest part of running is asking for contributions," said Driscoll, who worked for four years as a prosecutor in Norfolk County and the state attorney general's office after leaving the State House. "I'm proud of the time I spent there [in the State House]. People who know me know I make my decisions based on what's best for the community, not special interests."
Asked if he would be reluctant to pursue Bechtel/Parsons, given the financial boost the firms' lobbyists and consultants have given his campaign, Driscoll said, "I always think about what a decision does for the district first." He also said that, if elected, he might not seek a seat on the Transportation Committee. "I'm not sure at this point in time that it's the essential committee for me to be on," Driscoll said.
Raphael Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Sean P. Murphy at email@example.com.