By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Timing is everything

Among the blogging community, it’s no secret that the law firm of Ropes & Gray, which employs Gov. Deval Patrick’s wife, Diane Patrick, is a major force on the casino-gambling front. Peter Kenney, who blogs for Cape Cod Today, nibbled at it last September. Ryan Adams — who, as you’ll see, thinks highly enough of Patrick to post a picture of himself with the governor — took a bigger bite in December, writing of the Diane Patrick connection:

While I hate to be cynical, I don’t know if there’s another explanation that exists that can so easily describe why the Governor is pulling out all the stops on this issue, one that’s quickly turning his entire base against him.

But if anyone in the mainstream media has taken note of this conflict of interest, I’m not aware of it. Until today, that is. Boston Globe columnist Steve Bailey, a staunch casino opponent, has weighed in with a piece that lovingly details Ropes & Gray’s deep involvement in the gambling industry, including its defense of casinos that have been sued by “allegedly compulsive gamblers.”

The firm has an entire Web page devoted to its “gaming” practice (“gaming,” as I’ve pointed out before, is cleaned-up PR-speak for “gambling”). Among the so-called accomplishments it claims are helping Native American tribes deal with debt issues and — get this — “Defending a gaming company before the Federal Election Commission against charges of improper campaign donations.”

The firm assures Bailey that Diane Patrick is not involved in Ropes & Gray’s gambling operations, and, further, that Ropes & Gray claims no involvement in Gov. Patrick’s push for three casinos. No doubt that’s accurate, but it’s also irrelevant. If casino gambling comes to Massachusetts, lucrative business for Ropes & Gray awaits. And what’s good for Ropes & Gray is good for the Patricks.

How do you like the prospect of our governor’s creating the very “alleged” gambling addicts who’ll be suing companies represented by his wife’s law firm?

Needless to say, this is grotesque. It seems weird to suggest that Gov. Patrick should recuse himself from having any involvement in his own gambling proposal. But he’s the one who put himself in this position, not us.

With the gambling issue heating up, and with House Speaker Sal DiMasi’s opposition having come into question because of his golfing habits, Bailey picked the perfect moment to drop the bomb.

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  1. Anonymous

    As a public employee, I was always taught that the APPEARANCE of a conflict was as important as the real thing, since both erode public confidence. Someone should tell the governor that there’s a difference between claiming the moral high ground and being tone deaf. Muffy is laughing her pearls off right now.

  2. Anonymous

    You took the very words right out of my mouth Anonymous.

  3. Anonymous

    Let’s hope Bailey doesn’t take the package the Globe is offering. He’s too valuable.

  4. Anonymous

    Bailey should have acknowledged somewhere – anywhere – that Diane Patrick practices in the firm’s Health Law practice, which is many floors (both literal and figurative) away from the “gaming” practice. I may be splitting hairs here but by saying she “distanced herself” from the gaming practice the implication is that at one point she had something to do with it. She represents hospitals and not-for-profit health insurers. Should Patrick recuse himself from discussions about health care?Having said all of that, it is true that as a partner in the firm she and her family benefit when R&G benefits.

  5. Anonymous

    Any ink-stained wretch who reads this – can you please call out any state official who substitutes “gaming” for what it is: GAMBLING. I recall our idiot secretary of health and human services, Judy Ann Bigby, did it in a pro-gambling op-ed a while back.Gaming my ass. “Gaming.” So light and innocent, so playful and happy and healthy. “Honey, let’s go gaming this weekend!” “You bet!” [cue laugh track]

  6. io saturnalia

    The kerfuffle over the office drapes and the more-expensive-than-Mitt’s Caddy lease were dismissed by many as trivial, partisan swipes at Patrick. I believed then, however, that they were indicative of a personal scuzziness and disregard of his constituents that was likely to manifest itself in public policy. What have we seen from Patrick so far? Conflicts of interest vis-a-vis the advent of casino gambling in Massachusetts and, if MassPIRG’s study can be trusted — and I think it can — an already disastrous foray into auto insurance “reform.”And, believe it or not, this criticism is coming from one of those left “secularlists” Bill O’Reilly’s always harping about (no pun intended; I’m as Irish as he is.)_

  7. Anonymous

    In defense of DiMasi, a fellow can be golfer and still oppose casino’s in Massachusetts. A foursome’s a foursome. As for the Patrick’s, I agree it’s more than a little shady. Let’s not forget the statewide opposition has not even begun to blow it’s horn. Prepare for a heated debate on the hill.

  8. Anonymous

    >>gaming,” as I’ve pointed out before, is cleaned-up PR-speak for “gambling”<<Not necessarily; what of the distinction offered by the late, unlovely Sen. Dennis McKenna, D-Somerville? ‘Gaming,’ he said, is for change; ‘gambling’ is for real money. (I paraphrase – doubt McKenna would’ve used a semicolon, for one thing.)Jim

  9. Anonymous

    don’t kid yourself. Muffy will be the first one in the door when the first casino opens, wearing her pearls, of course.

  10. Anonymous

    Who is Muffy?

  11. liamstliam

    Hey, Dan.This has me sitting up here in the New York Vorth Country, waiting for the snow and missing Blue Ribbon Barbecue and thinking.Gov. Spitzer had a lot of initial positive support, but he squandered it all with a couple of gaffes, most notably his plan to give drivers’ licenses to undocumented people. (I had little issue, but most of the rest of the state did).It was sorta like, “I am going to die to defend this hill,” until he backed down.I have to wonder if that’s what’s going to happen to Gov. Patrick.Billy T

  12. Anon 10:00

    Anon 1:47,You miss my point. Lt. Gov. Healey (new in town, 2:15?)took massive Democratic flack for the legal, (yet tone-deaf)tax break her husband’s corp. HQ construction got. (We all know Beverly has no poor people, is totally residential and needs no jobs, right?)At any rate, Mr. Muffy returned the money to unwind the PR blunder. After all that, why would a Democratic governor put himself in the same position unless he was either arrogant or a dope? If Muffy IS the first one in the door, it won’t be as governor. It will be as an independently wealthy woman who wouldn’t have needed to bill us for drapes or a Caddy.

  13. Anonymous

    Defending a gaming company before the Federal Election Commission against charges of improper campaign donations? I often wonder which company they are defending?? Could it be a company that is made up of Len Wolman, Herb Strathers, Glen Marshall, Shawn Hendricks, Desire Moreno…

  14. Anonymous

    As the days pass, I can’t help but think we made the wrong decision: we should have gone with Reilly. I guess, as Sal DiMasi said, we just have to wait Deval out. I’m thinking Therese Murray would be a good primary oppenent. I’d like to see Gabrielli go for it again too.

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