It’s time for Peter Sturges, the unelected executive director of the State Ethics Commission, to appear in public — say, before a legislative committee — and answer some questions.
As Kimberly Atkins reported in yesterday’s Boston Herald, Sturges wrote a column in his agency’s spring newsletter arguing that the Boston Globe got it wrong last month when it claimed that ludicrous new commission guidelines would prevent elected officials from discussing political matters at the State House, even at a news conference.
But the Globe’s Andrea Estes, who broke the original story, reports today that Sturges may merely backing down in the face of criticism. Estes writes:
The April advisory, reported by the Globe last month, angered many legislators, who said yesterday that they believe the Ethics Commission softened its stance in response to their concerns.
“They’ve heard feedback and decided we need to clarify our clarification,” said House minority leader Bradley Jones, a Republican from North Reading. “In an extremely political building like the State House, trying to take the politics out is impossible. Everyone I talked to read it and thought it was more than is now being represented. It’s an attempt to clarify the clarification for the purposes of assuaging the Legislature.”
So which is it? Todd Wallack writes to Media Nation that Sturges’ actual position may be somewhere in the middle — that he was indeed attempting to crack down on political speech, but not to the extent that the Globe originally reported.
In a word, this is ridiculous. An unelected official is attempting to regulate precisely how much free speech may be allowed on state-owned property. (The correct answer, of course, is all of it.) The Globe and the Herald are trying to nail him down, but he won’t talk. Someone should demand some answers.