Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amazing? Outrageous? Greg Bialecki forced to disclose casino stock ownership and profits

How is it possible in this day and age that government officials promoting plans for any multi-billion dollar industry can simultaneously be buying and holding stock in that industry and think that's OK?

The Boston Globe reports that State Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki is holding stock in two Las Vegas casino companies which have expressed interest in Massachusetts casino development projects.  Bialecki is Governor Deval Patrick's point man on pushing through casino gambling enabling legislation in Massachusetts.  Patrick has been similarly been caught taking money from and meeting with casino gaming lobbyists while claiming he wasn't.

This is not a case of another Harvard trust funder (although Bialecki fits that bill too) being unaware of stock holdings he has had for years squirreled away by dear old granddad.  Bialecki purchased these stocks, some $17,000 worth, only last year!  Bialecki is claiming his "financial advisor" made the purchase without his knowledge - right!  Even if that were the doubtful case, Bialecki learned of this egregious conflict of interest last Spring and did nothing.  Right smack in the middle of his negotiating deals and legislation that would create billions of dollars of benefits to the casino industry and he did not sell off these stocks, issue any statement of error nor did he recuse himself from his role on behalf of Governor Patrick.  It was only after he started getting calls from reporters last week alerting him to the fact that he was getting caught that he closed his account and sold the stocks - making a mere 30 percent profit on his one year investment.  Most of us would love to make a 30 percent profit in a year - especially this past year when most stock portfolios have been losing money or eking out single digit profits at best.

Of course most of use aren't high ranking government officials responsible for legislation and special deals that will benefit the companies in which we invest.  We've not yet put a shovel in the ground to create one single job in the Bay State associated with casino development and yet reports of corruption and ethics scandals are tainting the state at the highest levels.  And senators like Therese "Ca-ching" Murray are offended by legislation asking for a five year waiting period before she and her legislative colleagues can join Patrick Administration personnel in cashing in on their debts to the casino industry with high paying jobs and contracts.

Our legislators are meeting today in conference to finalize casino gaming legislation which will turn over our state to foreign gambling interests, corrupt Indian tribes and a bevy of special interest groups which Governor Patrick - with the advice and counsel of Greg Bialecki - will sign into law.  Amazing?  Outrageous?  Unbelievable?  Yes, but most of all - corrupt and sad.