Ex-Patrick aide now lobbyist for gambling firm

Also had ties to current, previous state treasurers

By Frank Phillips
Globe Staff / February 24, 2011

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Doug Rubin, a former close political adviser to Governor Deval Patrick and the state treasurer, has registered as a Beacon Hill lobbyist for GTech Corp., the gambling giant that holds multimillion-dollar contracts with the Massachusetts State Lottery.

The partnership raises questions because last year Rubin served as a $60,000 campaign consultant to Steve Grossman in his bid for the treasurer’s job. As treasurer, Grossman now oversees the lottery.

From 2003 to 2005, Rubin also worked as first deputy to state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, a position that required him to supervise the lottery.

Rubin said he is well aware of the potential conflict and has informed clients of Northwind Strategies, his consulting firm, that they cannot expect him to draw on his connections to gain access to or influence government officials.

“I have made it very clear to current and prospective clients that my work is based on what I know, not who I know,’’ he said in an interview. “I would never put the elected officials I have worked with in a difficult situation by directly lobbying them on behalf of a specific issue.’’

His work for Rhode Island-based GTech, he said, will entail consulting for the firm as it seeks to protect its current contracts with the lottery.

Rubin’s political credentials on Beacon Hill are considerable and his ability to gain access to the Treasury, if he were to exercise it, is arguably better than almost any other lobbyist. He emerged from last year’s election as one of the state’s leading campaign strategists.

He is also among Patrick’s closest local political confidants and advisers. During much of Patrick’s first term, Rubin served as his chief of staff, playing a central role in his initial plans to legalize casino gambling in Massachusetts.

Before that, Rubin engineered Patrick’s original longshot candidacy in 2006 and then crafted the strategy that allowed Patrick to win reelection last year. He recently hired Patrick’s former communications director, Kyle Sullivan, to work for Northwind.

Rubin said that while the bulk of his work for GTech will not involve direct lobbying, a small portion of it could be defined as such under the state’s newly tightened reporting laws, which is why he said the firm has filed the necessary lobbying paperwork with the secretary of state’s office.

“While the focus of Northwind Strategies is on our communications and strategy work, we will from time to time undertake projects that will be included in lobbying reports, and I am committed to doing that work in a transparent and open manner,’’ Rubin said.

But the GTech contract highlights what public-interest watchdog groups say is a troublesome revolving-door syndrome that plagues both Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill in Washington.

Rubin has been out of state government long enough to clear the state lobbying rules that require most former state officials to wait a year before lobbying the agencies where they last worked.

With help from Rubin, Patrick pushed to establish new ethics rules that broadened the definition of lobbying and eliminated some of the loopholes that critics said allowed a good deal of State House lobbying to go undetected.

GTech has been providing the state lottery with both online and instant printing services since 1997.

The lottery operates one of the highest-volume instant ticket games in the world, and gaming firms view it as a huge prize for contracts.

Among the most recent deals was in July 2009, when GTech Printing Corp. was given a competitively bid, three-year contract to provide instant tickets. That deal has two one-year extension options. Two years earlier, GTech Corp. won a contract to sell some 3,000 instant ticket vending machines to the lottery, generating what the company expected to be between $17 million and $20 million in revenue for the firm.

A GTech spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment late yesterday.

Rubin said he also plans to register as a lobbyist for a second new client, One Family, a nonprofit that works to end family homelessness in Massachusetts. He said that job will entail lobbying for policies that help curb homelessness, and it may require him to meet with legislators.

Frank Phillips can be reached at