CommonWealth Examines Murray/IG/Phoenix Hooplah

CommonWealth Magazine's new editor, Bruce Mohl -- who knows a thing or two about investigative reporting -- writes in the new issue about the Inspector General's report on my Therese Murray/tourism marketing story. He titles his piece: "Murray uses IG as ombudsman for Phoenix story." (Sorry for not linking; subscription required for online version.) Mohl cites the executive director of the New England Press Association, which gave me an award for the story, saying that she has never seen this type of investigation of a press report in her 10 years at the association.

[Update: Here is a direct link to the CommonWealth story.]

Mohl faults me on what he calls "two key factual errors," involving the specifics of Murray's trips, and whether overseas visits to Massachusetts declined or rose while William MacDougall had the state contract.

Mohl interviewed IG Sullivan, who says that Murray's actions directing $11 million in contracts to MacDougall must be seen in the "context of a fight with the administration of former governor Mitt Romney." I agree, and explained that context in the article. Sullivan, I might add, did not mention in his report another crucial context: that MacDougall had previously been forced to resign from state government when the state auditor caught him bilking the state for improper (or nonexistent) expenses.

Speaking of the state auditor -- at the time we ran the article in February 2007, that office was conducting an audit of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, including the oversight of the MacDougall contract. In fact, they had been conducting that audit for quite some time, and there was an expectation that the report would be soon forthcoming, with a discussion of how MacDougall was able to spend huge amounts of state money without explanation or accounting. (As Mohl points out, although the IG's report claims to have accounted for all of MacDougall's expenditures, that is only in the broadest strokes: "For example, there's no breakdown of how $926,000 was spent by a public relations firm....")

That auditors report has still not been released, 14 months later, and last time I enquired about it I was told it was still in the works.

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