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

An intriguing loose thread

According to the FBI, state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson once celebrated receiving a $1,000 bribe by hightailing it to Foxwoods. A pretty amusing detail — and one that jogged my memory.

Last year, not long after Glenn Marshall stepped down in disgrace as head of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribal council, there was a meeting involving Wilkerson, D-Roxbury, that has never been explained. But it clearly had something to do with the tribe’s fading hopes of building a mega-casino in Middleborough.

In a story broken by Peter Kenney at Cape Cod Today in September 2007, we learned that Amelia Bingham and her son, Steven Bingham, tribal members whom Marshall had ordered “shunned” for asking too many questions, met with Wilkerson in her office. Also present was Michael Morris, a top aide to Gov. Deval Patrick, and several advisers to the Binghams.

Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi later reported that Morris had not expected the Binghams to be present. That differed from Kenney’s account, which claimed that Morris merely hadn’t expected the Binghams to bring advisers with them.

Although the Binghams were fierce opponents of Marshall, they do not oppose the idea of building a tribal casino. Rather, they have criticized Marshall and his successor, Shawn Hendricks, for not cutting a lucrative enough deal for tribal members.

What is or was Wilkerson’s involvement in all this? Who knows? Kenney believed it might have something to do with the Binghams’ lawsuit against the town of Mashpee over property rights. That could lead to a casino’s being built in Mashpee rather than Middleborough. The suit is still very much alive, and K.C. Myers of the Cape Cod Times has an update today.

And check this out: Less than a week ago, the Globe’s Sean Murphy wrote an intriguing profile of an obscure Boston political figure named William McDermott, whose dealings with the tribe, and with Marshall, have been so extensive that Murphy called him “a founding father of the modern Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.” One of McDermott’s “old friends,” as it turns out, is Daniel Pokaski, chairman of the Boston Licensing Board, now at the center of the Wilkerson scandal.

Let’s not forget, too, that the FBI is still investigating Marshall.

It is time to find out what was discussed in Wilkerson’s office that day.

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  1. mike_b1

    Where’s Costanza when you need him? “This thing is like an onion: the more layers you peel, the more it stinks!”

  2. Ani

    All that’s missing is marrying their kids off to one another’s, and we could be back in the middle ages.

  3. Gladys Kravitz

    The time to find out was last year.Apparently Federally recognized Indian tribes with 1,500 members get all sorts of meetings with all sorts of officials. Sadly, the local selectmen from the towns abutting Middleboro, who represent 225,000 people living in an area which will be ground zero for lower property values, business cannibalization, crime, addiction, traffic, road trash, bankruptcies, foreclosures, domestic aabuse, child neglect and abuse, and suicide, can’t get an audience with anyone.No casino in sight, and yet, here’s proof of the power of those good old casino dollars in action.Oh, did I forget to mention that political corruption is also ‘impact’ of casino gambling. I wonder how much ‘mitigation’ is that worth??

  4. O-FISH-L

    As the initial dust settles on Wilkerson — and no doubt there’s more to come on her and many others — I can’t help but wonder how Menino will come out of this.His endorsement of Wilkerson, “The Mayor’s Choice for Senate” is one thing, especially given her past, but from what I hear from city workers and read on reader’s comments, Menino went all out for her, even possibly tacitly signaling that city workers should take a vacation or personal day to campaign for her whether they wanted to or not. That really raises questions as to why he wanted her to win so badly.Combine Menino’s endorsement and other support with the feds going straight for City Hall and seizing everything but the cement walls and you have to think this thing is going to get a lot bigger. Can’t wait!

  5. jvwalt

    Wow, I agree with o-fish-l! The Lords of Beacon Hill sure did slam it into overdrive once the subpoenas started flying. They want her out of there pronto, and they are trying desperately to get out in front of the scandal so they can put on a show of “leadership.” This morning’s story in The Globe was telling: a whole lot of comments about the need for ethics reform… and not a peep about the possible spread of the Wilkerson scandal to other lawmakers and leaders. They want to change the subject. Like Mark McGwire before that congressional committee, they’re not here to talk about the past…

  6. Dan Kennedy

    JV: Fish is absolutely right. He may be a right-wing loon (just kidding!), but he knows his Massachusetts politics. This is going to get U-G-L-Y.

  7. Steve

    I can’t wait til all of these people fry. Menino, Wilkerson and Pokaski are on the top of the list. All of these people knew what was going on and have been taking advantage of their power. Pokaski works maybe 15 hrs a week and makes 100k/yr! There are several other people that will be named soon many political figures and police are taking money to get licenses and keeping places out of trouble. I hope they all go to jail!!!

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