|Ethics Panel: Ruberto, Duquette Broke Conflict Laws|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
04:27PM / Monday, July 26, 2010
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state Ethics Commission has found that Mayor James M. Ruberto and former Red Sox General Manager Daniel Duquette violated conflict-of-interest laws over a couple Red Sox World Series tickets six years ago.
|Mayor James M. Ruberto|
Duquette, who was trying to interest the city into allowing his New England Collegiate Baseball League team to play at Wahconah Park, offered the 2004 Game 2 tickets at face value ($380) to Ruberto, who told him earlier his dream was to watch the Sox play a World Series game.
Neither man will face fines because of what the commission described as "extenuating circumstances," including Ruberto being a new mayor and neither being aware of a commission advisory that October that warned selling tickets at face value could create a conflict of interest situation. "They both believed that they were complying with the conflict law and scalping laws by selling the tickets at face value."
Ruberto on Monday described the findings as a validation that it was an innocent mistake and "there was no wrongdoing or influence peddling."
"I'm glad it's over; I'm very pleased it's over," said Ruberto, who had not yet read the opinion. "My integrity and that of Dan Duquette has been sustained."
Both Ruberto and Duquette have said they believed they had followed the rules. The Ethics Commission, however, said today it had found Duquette sold the tickets "with the intent to influence Ruberto's official actions regarding the [licensing agreement and concession stand agreement] and the Dukes move to Pittsfield."
Ruberto was found to have violated several sections of the law related to receiving "substantial value" from someone in a situation he would have influence over and to "unwarranted privilege" because of the position he held.
The press release from the Ethics Commission can be found here.
The decision, here.
Yet, the commission noted, "there is no evidence that Ruberto was actually influenced by receiving the tickets because the final deal worked out between the city and Duquette was favorable to the City, and the negotiations were at times contentious."
Ruberto had been trying to lure a minor league team back to the city at that time, including trying to strike a deal with a group formed by former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton (who would write about the failed experience in his update of "Foul Ball.") Ruberto said on Monday that only after minor-league baseball made it clear no team was coming did he begin talks with Duquette that November.
Since then, Duquette's Pittsfield Dukes have folded as have another collegiate team Duquette was involved with at Wahconah. The Pittsfield Colonials, a Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball team, is currently playing there.
"The critical issue was to have it resolved that I was not influenced one iota in the transaction with Dan and that the city negotiated a very, very hard bargain," said Ruberto. "It led to the most costly licensing agreement that any team in the league paid."
The mayor said there was no malicious intent in the tickets sale, a determination the "Ethics Commission was forced to make" after six years of investigation.
The Ethics Commission saw it as more cut and dry.
"As stated in this Decision, to comply with the conflict law in these circumstances, Duquette should not have offered and sold the tickets to Ruberto, and Ruberto should not have purchased them from Duquette," said Executive Director Karen L. Nober.
Was it worth being slapped by the commission to see the Sox win the second game in what would be the team's first World Series victory since 1918?
"For my nephew who flew into Boston to see the game with me, it certainly was," said Ruberto. "For me, I sometimes wonder."