Walsh suggests City Hall changes may underlie probe report
By Evan Lips | April 27, 2016, 20:02 EST
BOSTON – Mayor Marty Walsh has spent much of the past few days fending off an attack from foes he cannot see: Specifically, unnamed sources who reportedly claim that federal investigators captured Walsh, then a trade union leader in Boston, on a wiretap saying a developer would face permitting problems in the city if it didn’t hire union workers for another project in Somerville.
“I would never say something like that – even when I ran the Building Trades five years ago – that was just not my style,” Walsh told a gaggle of reporters Monday after he spoke at an event honoring the Boy Scouts.
Walsh, a former construction laborer who became a union leader, ran the Building and Construction Trades Council, a union umbrella group, in the city for two years before running for mayor. He denied any wrongdoing in that role. The mayor also served as a state representative from 1997 to 2013. The alleged wiretap recording was from 2012, according to the Boston Globe, which first reported the probe Sunday.
Through his city office, Walsh issued a statement saying: “Whatever broad review of labor activities that may be going on, it has little to do with the Walsh administration.”
The report linking Walsh to a federal probe of local union strongarm tactics cited a source that the newspaper kept confidential. It said that Walsh – at the time Dorchester’s Democratic state rep – told Laborers Local 22 Vice President Anthony Perrone that developer AvalonBay Communities could face permitting problems for high-rise developments in Boston if it didn’t hire union laborers to work at its Assembly Row project in Somerville. According to the report, Perrone’s phone had been tapped as a result of an ongoing federal investigation.
After the Boy Scouts event Monday, Walsh was met by reporters asking questions about the Globe story. He denied knowing “anything that’s going on with any type of federal probe regarding the trades, whether it’s in Boston, up and down the East Coast.”
“Either somebody has a little bone to pick with me or doesn’t like the way I do business as mayor – an open and transparent process,” Walsh told reporters.
“They might not agree with the way the development process works in Boston,” Walsh said, according to the Herald. “There’s no favorites in my administration and I think people are upset and they’re dropping things that aren’t accurate.”
Walsh’s predecessor in City Hall, the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino, famously favored a few developers in the city and punished others.
On Wednesday, Walsh appeared on Boston Herald Radio and again said he would “never say something like that.” Walsh added that not only has he not been called to appear before a grand jury, he’s also not been contacted by the federal government.
“If there is an investigation, I’m assuming at some point there’ll be indictments coming down,” Walsh told reporters on Monday, according to the Herald. “If that’s the case, I will not be getting one of those – because I did nothing wrong.”
If any subpoenas have been issued to Walsh or anyone else at City Hall, a verification should come as soon as next week. On Monday, a Globe report said that the state’s supervisor of records ruled Friday that Walsh’s office must publicly acknowledge the delivery of any federal subpoenas within 10 days of being asked. Robert Sinsheimer, a lawyer for Perrone, said the report had unfairly smeared his client’s name, according to the Herald. The attorney told the Globe his client had done nothing wrong.
Reports of a wiretapped 2012 conversation involving Perrone and regarding AvalonBay Communities first surfaced in the Globe last November, although Walsh wasn’t mentioned. Speculation about the source for the latest story has centered on prosecutors who may be trying to flush out witnesses.
“I think the U.S. attorney understands, if there is a problem in her office, she will address the issue,” Walsh said of Carmen Ortiz, the top federal prosecutor in Boston, during Wednesday’s Herald radio appearance. “I don’t know if there is a leak or if some of this is made up, or hearsay.”
“There is no factual evidence.”