State GOP Can't Wait to Audit Auditor's Emails with Former First Deputy

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Given the number of public officials who have been hurt by something they wrote in an email, it only makes sense for Republicans to try to get their hands on any emails State Auditor Suzanne Bump, a Democrat, may have exchanged with a disgruntled former underling. 

With the casualness of everyday conversation and the permanence of a legal record, emails are almost always a disaster waiting to happen.
This past August, you may recall, Bump was sued by Laura Marlin, who had been her First Deputy Auditor and before that her campaign manager.

In early 2014 or thereabouts, the duo had some kind of falling out, which turned acrimonious, and Bump gave Marlin an ultimatum: resign or be fired.  Marlin resigned.  Shortly thereafter, she filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, Marlin claimed, among other things, that Bump had pulled her punches during an audit of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) because many of the department’s employees are members of the Service Employees International Union and she hoped the union would endorse her re-election bid.  Bump denied it unequivocally.  “…I have never allowed any organization or individual to influence the conduct or independence of an audit,” she said.

On March 10 of this year, it was learned that Bump had settled the Marlin lawsuit out of court.  The State House News Service reported that Bump had agreed to a $115,000 payment to Marlin (one-third of which will go to her lawyers) and that the money would be taken from a state government account set up to cover such settlements.  The public is paying for this deal.
Asked if she was admitting any fault, Bump said, “No, absolutely not.”

The Republican Party promptly said it was “outrageous that Massachusetts taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill” for the settlement. Bump “needs to pay this settlement with her own funds,” it demanded.
With the Marlin lawsuit put to bed, there seems to be only one possible way now for the public to find out if there’s any substance to Marlin’s claim that Bump took it easy on the DCF to court favor with a politically powerful union: a public information request by the Massachusetts Republican Party to obtain copies of all messages via email between Bump and Marlin. The GOP filed the request last fall, shortly after Marlin sued. 

Even if Republicans find nothing that proves problematic, ethically or legally, for Bump, chances are they’ll find something that turns her face red and puts her in an uncomfortable media spotlight for a day or two.
Bump and Marlin were once very close.  Their alliance was sealed in the intensity of the political arena.  For a time, their futures were intertwined.  When relationships like that go bad, emotions tend to overflow and the principals tend to say things they later wish they hadn’t.










No comments:

Post a Comment