DCR chief, aide suspended in connection with private party
BOSTON >> Two top officials from the Department of Conservation and Recreation will be suspended without pay next week for focusing too much on the recreation half of their agency's name — using state resources to throw a private party.
DCR Commissioner Leo Roy and Deputy Commissioner Matthew Sisk, who used taxpayer money on a private party they threw on Sunday, July 3 at the Beacon Street home of a prominent state Republican Party leader, will be off the job without pay Sept. 2 to 9, the state confirmed Wednesday.
"I think that the circumstances there are illustrative of what is not acceptable and our administration does not tolerate that kind of behavior," Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito told the News Service on Wednesday.
Roy and Sisk have paid the state back more than $800 for the state resources they used to plan and host the party, which coincided with the Boston Pops Independence Day dress rehearsal concert at the Esplanade's Hatch Shell, a DCR property.
The party and expenditure of state money was first reported Tuesday by WCVB investigative reporter Mike Beaudet.
Roy and Sisk used DCR-rented golf carts driven by DCR employees working at the Esplanade to ferry their guests from the party to the Hatch Shell for the Pops concert, according to a memo DCR's director of administration and finance sent Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton on Tuesday.
"An unknown number of the rented carts, driven by DCR staff, also were used to transport a number of Mr. Roy and Mr. Sisk's guests on DCR property," the memo reads.
One DCR assistant spent more than three hours of work time "making phone calls, sending emails, preparing invitations and maintaining a guest list" for the party and a second assistant spent one hour "gathering a guest list, preparing invitations and making phone calls," according to the memo.
DCR recommended Roy and Sisk reimburse the state $817.23 to cover the costs of the golf carts, the DCR employees who drove the carts, the time state employees spent working on the private event and the state-owned "cardstock, envelopes and stamps" used to print and send invitations to the party.
DCR said the cost estimates are "deliberately overestimated to ensure the Commonwealth is made more than whole."
Since the party and expenditure of taxpayer money came to light Roy and Sisk have reimbursed the state, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said.
"The use of state resources for this private event was entirely inappropriate and the Executive Office of Environmental and Energy Affairs is pleased that Commissioner Roy and Deputy Commissioner Sisk fully reimbursed the state so that not a single tax dollar was wasted," EEA spokesman Peter Lorenz said in a statement. "Both Roy and Sisk volunteered to inform the Ethics Commission of the situation and the commission compelled them to undergo additional ethics training and fully reimburse any and all state resources-which they have already done."
Polito said Roy and Sisk reported themselves to the Ethics Commission for a review, which Polito said was "an opportunity for them to better understand what's appropriate."
"Obviously, they know what they did was not appropriate," Polito told the News Service on Wednesday. "They paid the penalty for that and our administration felt it was important to go beyond that and suspend the individuals for their poor decision without pay for a week."
Ethics Commission spokesman David Giannotti said the commission observes strict confidentiality and can not confirm or deny whether Roy and Sisk made filings with the commission or whether the Ethics Commission sanctioned the officials.
The party was held at 250 Beacon St. #2, according to an invitation obtained by WCVB, just across Storrow Drive from the Esplanade.
That apartment is owned by Ronald Kaufman, the state's Republican national committeeman, a review of city property records and campaign finance filings by the News Service found.
Kaufman did not respond to a News Service inquiry Wednesday about the use of his apartment for the party. The state Republican Party said only that party chair Kirsten Hughes "is glad that the Commonwealth has been reimbursed and that this matter has been handled by the Ethics Commission."
Roy is a former undersecretary of environmental affairs during Gov. William Weld's administration who was tapped by Beaton to head DCR in December after the previous commissioner resigned. Roy worked in state government from 1992 to 1997 and had worked as an environmental consultant since. His annual salary is $130,000, according to state records.
Sisk is a Republican state committee member who became DCR deputy commissioner for operations after serving as chairman of MassGOP's nominating convention. He is also a former economic development specialist in the Massachusetts district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. His annual salary is $112,200, according to state records.
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