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Records show Gaming Commission relied mostly on Stan McGee and Deval Patrick's word in hiring

by: Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno

Thu Jul 19, 2012 at 16:12:23 PM EDT


.  I do not know what was involved in either review and I did not see any written report of findings; I know only that these reviews were sufficient to alleviate any concerns the Governor might have had about bringing Mr. Mcgee back to state service.  It frankly never occurred to me to second guess that. - Karen Schwartzman interim Gaming Commission Press Secretary

Documents obtained by Red Mass Group, yesterday, show that those advising Gaming Commissioners regarding Carl Stanley McGee's fitness to serve as interim Executive Director relied mainly on McGee's version of events.  They also took into account a single news article and the Patrick Administration's word.  

McGee, who no longer works for Massachusetts government, was accused of non-consensual pederasty with a 15 year old boy while vacationing in Florida.  He was never prosecuted, despite Florida's lead child crimes cop, Terry Thomas of the FDLE, strongly suggesting that he be.  McGee later settled a civil suit in the matter.  

On April 23, 2012 newly appointed gaming commissison Chairman Steve Crosby alerted Sydney Asbury, Deval Patrick's Chief of Staff, that he was considering asking Carl Stanley McGee to be the interim Executive Director of the Gaming Commission, one of three possible picks.  In that emailed conversation Crosby asked Asbury, "any problem with us considering him[McGee] further?"

Asbury answered Crosby by stating that the Governor's office didn't, "have any immediate concerns with Stan's candidacy, just some questions."  Asbury continued, "do you have any concerns about Stan being tied too closely with the Governor?"  

There was no mention of McGee's alleged non-consensual pederasty at this point.  That would change over the next five days.  In an email to Crosby on Saturday April 28, 2012 Karen Schwartzman, a public relations consultant serving as interim press secretary for the commission, informed Crosby that she was formulating a strategy around "Stan McGee's nightmare".  In this email she forwarded to Crosby a newspaper article outlining the charges having been dropped against McGee.  Schwartzman had been appointed by Governor Patrick to the position in December of 2011, and was paid by the administration until the beginning of April 2012.

Two short days after this email, a strategy had been developed and was deployed via an email outlining why the commissioners should overlook the allegations against McGee.  

continued after the jump...

Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno :: Records show Gaming Commission relied mostly on Stan McGee and Deval Patrick's word in hiring

Adverstisement

Schwartzman wrote, "Steve asked me to give him my best thinking on whether - from a media standpoint - the Commission would take a public relations hit for hiring Stan, given the allegations that surfaced four years ago in Florida."  She continued,  "I told Steve that I believe that if the the Commission decides that Stan is the right person for the job, you should not let this history stand in your way.  Basically, I said that based on all I know, this can be managed - and that the risk to the agency is small relative to the benefit of hiring such a perfectly suited person for this slot."

In an emailed series of responses to questions raised by these emails, (shown below in full) Schwartzman outlined that she was aware of the seriousness of the allegations and relied on conversations with the Patrick Administration and Stan McGee to allay her concerns.  

Schwartzman stated, "What influenced my thinking most was my understanding that the secretary of economic affairs - and subsequently the governor's most trusted advisor - his legal counsel - had reviewed the matter four years prior, just following the prosecutor's decision not to bring charges, and had satisfied the Governor sufficient to cause the Governor to decide that returning Mr. Mcgee to the state payroll was the fair and prudent thing to do.  I do not know what was involved in either review and I did not see any written report of findings; I know only that these reviews were sufficient to alleviate any concerns the Governor might have had about bringing Mr. Mcgee back to state service.  It frankly never occurred to me to second guess that."

The gaming commission conducted no independent review of the case, talked to no parties involved, other than McGee, and relied primarily on news reports and Governor Patrick's administration in forming their conclusions.

Schwartzman went on to write to the commissioners that the alleged assault took place in a "politically conservative" area of Florida.  She mentioned the civil suit in her email but did not mention that it was settled, only that it was terminated with prejudice.  When asked by Red Mass Group, today, if she had read the civil complaint outlining the alleged acts she said no.

The day after this email, outlining the McGee situation, was sent the Gaming Commission confirmed McGee as the interim gaming pick.  A media firestorm ensued leading to McGee stepping down both from the commission and state government in general.  

When asked to respond to these new details surrounding the vetting of McGee, Republican Party spokesman Tim Buckley said, "The emails uncovered by Red Mass Group offer a unique look into the decision making process of liberal bureaucrats. It appears that gaming officials, through a warped view of reality, felt McGee was somehow the victim and that the public won't care because they can control the media. Moreover, when McGee's hire comes to light and the public rightfully objects, no one is around to take the blame."

The Patrick Administration, more specifically the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, declined to respond to Schwartzman's characterizations.

Schwartzman was also asked if her views on McGee's innocence were different today than when she was vetting him.  She responded, "Since I did not personally investigate the allegations and I didn't sit as judge or juror with all of the available evidence before me, I never thought I was in a position to express certainty about Stan's innocence."

Schwartzman continued,  "What I could do, and what I did do, was to report to the Commission on what I learned about the judgements and actions of others (the Florida prosecutor and the Governor's staff) who I understood had developed what information there was, and in the case of the prosecutor -- had the obligation to bring charges if she felt the case could be successfully prosecuted."

Below you will find photograph's of the original documents, and the unedited email exchange with Karen Schwartzman

McGee Gaming

--------------------------------------------


Karen Schwartzman kschwartzman@polarispr.net
8:35 AM (7 hours ago)

to me
Robert:
See my responses, which you'll find in capital letters, following each of your questions below.
Karen

On Jul 18, 2012, at 11:15 PM, Robert Eno wrote:
Karen:

As a follow up.  This SHNS article states that you were hired by the Governor.  At the time of your recommendations who was paying your fee?  The Governor's office or the Gaming Commission?        

BEGINNING IN APRIL, MY FEE WAS PAID BY THE GAMING COMMISSION.

PATRICK HIRES PR SPECIALIST FOR GAMING INQUIRIES
Karen Schwartzman, a public relations specialist and crisis communicator, has been retained by Gov. Deval Patrick's office to handle press inquiries for Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby and the commission for the next several months. Schwartzman, who runs her own private consulting firm, will assist Crosby and the commission during its formation over the next several months. Patrick selected Crosby to chair the commission last week. Attorney General Martha Coakley and Treasurer Steven Grossman have yet to announce their picks for the five-member panel, and a search firm is being sought to help the three officials agree to the final two picks. Once the commission is fully formed, the panel will seek a full-time communications director. Schwartzman worked as a deputy press secretary in the Dukakis administration and as State Ethics Commission investigator. More recently she was retained a year ago by the law firm Mintz Levin to consult for House Speaker Robert DeLeo on matters pertaining to the Probation Department in the wake of an independent counsel report that identified widespread patronage and mismanagement. She also handled communications for Powers Fasteners following the fatal tunnel ceiling collapse in the Big Dig.

Elaine:

If Karen is unwilling to provide this information, please consider this a public records request asking for it.

---------------------

Dear Karen:

As you are most probably aware I have been provided public records regarding Carl Stanely McGee and the gaming commission.  At this point in time as I formulate a series of stories on the matter for Red Mass Group, I would like to give you the opportunity to comment.  The second story in a series of stories will focus on the vetting process of Carl Stanley McGee.  Specifically what information the Board Members had at their disposal about the serious allegations of non-consensual pederasty against Carl Stanley McGee.  Charges which were not prosecuted, but he settled in a civil court.  

As the public relations consultant for the Gaming Commission you sent a series of Emails meant to allay any fears that Commissioners may have had regarding allegations against Carl Stanley McGee.

 I AM ON A 2 PM Deadline.

1) Throughout the course of your writing regarding C. Stanley McGee it comes across that you have known him for quite some time, and consider him a victim in all of this.  Do you have a relationship, professional or otherwise with McGee?  If so was this relationship disclosed to the members of the Board?  

I MET STAN MCGEE AND SPOKE WITH HIM FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME A WEEK BEFORE THE COMMISSION VOTED TO HIRE HIM.  FOR MONTHS I HAD HEARD OTHERS - MOST PARTICULARLY, PEOPLE ON THE GOVERNOR'S STAFF - SPEAK OF HIM AS THE 'GO TO' PERSON FOR ASSISTANCE WITH GAMING MATTERS AS THE PERSON IN THE ADMINISTRATION MOST FAMILIAR WITH THE EXPANDED GAMING LAW AND ITS HISTORY.

2) On Saturday Morning April 28, 2012 you emailed Steve Crosby regarding the "final disposition" of Carl Stanley McGee's criminal proceedings in Florida.   In that email you state the following.

"I'm doing some work this morning, preparing myself in the event that I need to address Stan McGee's nightmare related to the allegations against him."

Q: When you termed the serious allegations against McGee as a nightmare on Saturday the 28th were you aware that he settled a civil complaint?  Had you read the report of FDLE Agent Terry Thomas strongly suggesting that McGee be prosecuted?  Was the word nightmare used to describe the whole situation or what it meant for Mr. McGee?

I WAS AWARE THAT MR. MCGEE HAD BEEN ACCUSED OF A SERIOUS CRIME AND THAT UPON INVESTIGATION BY FLORIDA AUTHORITIES, NO CHARGES WERE BROUGHT.  I WAS NOT AWARE OF ANY REPORT PREPARED BY ANYONE NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, THE OFFICE THAT ULTIMATELY MADE A DECISION NOT TO BRING CHARGES.  I KNEW MR. MCGEE HAD SETTLED A CIVIL COMPLAINT BROUGHT AGAINST HIM.

WHAT INFLUENCED MY THINKING MOST WAS MY UNDERSTANDING THAT THE SECRETARY OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS - AND SUBSEQUENTLY THE GOVERNOR'S MOST TRUSTED ADVISOR - HIS LEGAL COUNSEL - HAD REVIEWED THE MATTER FOUR YEARS PRIOR, JUST FOLLOWING THE PROSECUTOR'S DECISION NOT TO BRING CHARGES, AND HAD SATISFIED THE GOVERNOR SUFFICIENT TO CAUSE THE GOVERNOR TO DECIDE THAT RETURNING MR. MCGEE TO THE STATE PAYROLL WAS THE FAIR AND PRUDENT THING TO DO.  I DO NOT KNOW WHAT WAS INVOLVED IN EITHER REVIEW AND I DID NOT SEE ANY WRITTEN REPORT OF FINDINGS; I KNOW ONLY THAT THESE REVIEWS WERE SUFFICIENT TO ALLEVIATE ANY CONCERNS THE GOVERNOR MIGHT HAVE HAD ABOUT BRINGING MR. MCGEE BACK TO STATE SERVICE.  IT FRANKLY NEVER OCCURRED TO ME TO SECOND GUESS THAT.

I THEN ALSO KNEW THAT FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS, MR. MCGEE BECAME THE ADMINISTRATION'S EXPERT ON GAMING AND HELD SIGNIFICANT RESPONSIBILITY FOR REPRESENTING THE ADMINISTRATION'S POSITION IN DISCUSSIONS WITH NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES.

AND I KNEW THAT WHEN THE GOVERNOR'S STAFF WAS SPECIFICALLY ASKED WHETHER THEY SAW ANY REASON NOT TO HIRE MR. MCGEE INTO THIS INTERIM POSITION, THEY RESPONDED FAVORABLY AND MADE NO MENTION OF ANY LINGERING CONCERNS THEY MIGHT HAVE HAD ABOUT HIS PAST.

3) On Monday afternoon, April 30, 2012, you wrote a briefing for the members of the board of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.  I have a series of questions regarding this email.

"Steve asked me to give him my best thinking on whether - from a media standpoint - the Commission would take a public relations hit for hiring Stan, given the allegations that surfaced four years ago in Florida.  I told Steve that I believe that if the the Commission decides that Stan is the right person for the job, you should not let this history stand in your way.  Basically, I said that based on all I know, this can be managed - and that the risk to the agency is small relative to the benefit of hiring such a perfectly suited person for this slot."

Q: What did you know at the time you wrote this April 30, 2012 email?  Were you aware of the text of the civil suit against him. (http://www.redmassgroup.com/diary/14641/what-exactly-happened-in-florida-with-c-stanley-mcgee) when making this recommendation?  Were you aware that the chief child crimes law enforcement officer in Florida FDLE Agent Terry Thomas strongly suggested that McGee be prosecuted?  Had you read his report to the prosecutor?  NO.  SEE MY RESPONSE, ABOVE.

"Stan is a gay man who, at the time, was vacationing with his partner and his partner's family at a resort in Florida - Specifically, in an area of Florida that would be [sic] any measure, be deemed extremely conservative politically."

Q: What do the political leanings of the county in which Stan McGee is alleged to have vacationed have to do with his innocence or guilt?  I have heard, but have not independently verified, that McGee's inlaws are well connected  and property owners in that county.  Were you aware of this, if true, and would that have been material to the case? Were you aware at this time that the alleged victim of non-consensual pederasty was vacationing as well, and was from New York not that county?

I DID NOT CONDUCT AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF ANY SORT AND I HAD NO KNOWLEDGE WHATSOEVER ABOUT MR. MCGEE'S FAMILY.  MY ADVICE WAS BASED ON MY UNDERSTANDING THAT THE GOVERNOR'S LEGAL COUNSEL HAD REVIEWED THE FACTS AND DETERMINED TO HIS SATISFACTION - AND TO THE GOVERNOR'S SATISFACTION - THAT MR. MCGEE SHOULD RETURN TO STATE SERVICE.  IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME TO SECOND GUESS THIS AND I SAW NO REASON WHY THE COMMISSION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO RELY ON IT.

"Stan did not know the person who accused him."

"Despite a 12-week effort to find enough evidence to charge him with sexual assault, the prosecutor could not find any evidence whatsoever to support he allegations and dropped the case.  Stan was never charged"

Q: What bearing do you put on Stan knowing or not knowing his accuser?  When you made the claim regarding evidence had you seen the report prepared by Special Agent Terry Thomas of the FDLE?  Had you read the above referenced civil complaint?  

"Stan took a leave of absence from his Commonwealth of Massachusetts job while this matter was being investigated, so as not to cause the Governor any further embarrassment."

"When the case in Florida was dropped, Governor Patrick asked Economic Affairs Secretary Dan O'Connell to conduct an independent review sot hat he could be reassured that there was no evidence to support the claim.

"After this internal review- which was reviewed again by the Governor's legal counsel - Stan was reinstated into his old position."

Q: Were you provided with a copy of this internal review?

Were you allowed to see it in forming your conclusions?  Was Special Agent Terry Thomas of the FDLE contacted as part of the Governor's internal review?

SEE MY RESPONSE, ABOVE.

"A year or two later, Stan was sued civilly by the family of the boy; that case was terminated with prejudice."

Q: Why did you feel it necessary to use the term "terminated with prejudice"  why did you initially withhold the information from the  Board Members that pointed to the settling of the lawsuit?  You do not mention it here.  Why is that?

I USED THE TERM 'TERMINATED WITH PREJUDICE' BECAUSE THAT IS THE WAY THE DISPOSITION OF THE CIVIL CASE WAS DESCRIBED TO ME.  I ASSUMED, OBVIOUSLY WRONGLY, THAT THE COMMISSIONERS WOULD HAVE BEEN FAMILIAR WITH THAT TERM OR IF THEY WERE NOT FAMILIAR, THEY WOULD HAVE ASKED FOR CLARIFICATION - AS I DID WHEN IT WAS FIRST MENTIONED TO ME; THERE WAS CERTAINLY NO INTENT TO WITHOLD INFORMATION.

"Bottom line: I believe that the media will mention this history - but I also believe that I can appeal to their sense of fairness in making clear that Stan has already been through the ringer for a crime he didn't commit and that it would be grossly unfair to put him through it again.  I think it likely that the media will feel that they have to mention this - but I think it will be no more than a paragraph deep into an otherwise extremely favorable story about Stan and what it is that makes him a quality candidate for this job."

Q:  What made you think that allegations that were settled civilly of non-consensual pederasty with a 15 year old boy would not warrant serious journalistic consideration and review?

THE ALLEGATIONS WERE MADE FOUR YEARS EARLIER.  THE MEDIA COVERAGE AT THE TIME WAS BOTH COMPREHENSIVE AND SUBSTANTIAL.  I WAS NOT AWARE THAT THERE WAS ANY NEW INFORMATION THAT HAD BEEN DEVELOPED FOLLOWING THE PROSECUTOR'S DECISION NOT TO BRING CHARGES.

3)  Later that evening Commissioner James McHugh wrote asking if a settlement was in fact reached in the Civil case:

Karen,

I agree with this thoughtful assessment.  The combination of the dismissal by the prosecutor and the Gov's independent investigation ends the matter for me.  However, I'm not quite as sanguine as you that it will end the matter for others, and in that regard think that you ought to know the details surrounding the "termination with prejudice of the civil suit.  I'm not familiar with that term - maybe it's peculiar to Florida - but I think you ought to know wheter a settlement of any kind - even a nominal one -was involved.....

Q: As a follow up to the question above, why did you initially withhold the information regarding a settlement to the board members?

SEE MY RESPONSE, ABOVE.  I SIMPLY ASSUMED THAT THE TERM 'TERMINATED WITH PREJUDICE' WAS A TERM OTHERS WOULD HAVE BEEN FAMILIAR WITH.

4) You responded with the following at 6:59 AM the following morning to McHugh's 10:29 PM email.

Jim:

"I did ask Stan the meaning of "termination with prejudice" with respect to the civil suit.  Stan indicated that he cannot be sued again by this family in connection with these same allegations.  Stan did indicate to me that there was indeed a settlement, though he didn't say, and I didn't ask how much money was pay.  He did say it was not a big number - but that it made him sick to pay anything at all.  H [sic] said that he was advised by counsel that it was in his interest to make the settlement so as to end the nightmare as expeditiously as possible."

Q: Were you aware that the case in question was filed in Suffolk County Massachusetts?  Not Florida? Were you aware that the settlement was a multi-year process not expeditious?  Had you read the intital complaint referenced above?  Did you make the civil complaint available to the commissioners to review?  Finally, was commissioner McHugh the only person to whom you referenced that McGee had settled his complaint?

WHATEVER I KNEW ABOUT THE CIVIL COMPLAINT I PASSED ALONG TO THE COMMISSIONERS IN MY EMAIL OF APRIL 30 TO ALL OF THEM - IN WHICH I INDICATED THAT THERE WAS A CIVIL LAWSUIT - AND TO COMMISSIONER MCHUGH, BY EMAIL, IN RESPONSE TO HIS EMAIL TO ME.  AS COMMISSIONER CROSBY WROTE IN HIS LETTER TO REPRESENTATIVE DAN WINSLOW, AND AS I'M SURE YOU KNOW, IT IS NOT UNCOMMON TO SETTLE A CIVIL COMPLAINT BY MAKING A PAYMENT OF SOME AMOUNT, AND THE FACT THAT ONE MAY DO SO IS NOT NECESSARILY AN INDICATION OF GUILT.

AGAIN, I TRUSTED THAT THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE WAS AWARE OF THIS EVEN AS THEY CONTINUED TO EMPLOY MR. MCGEE FOR FOUR YEARS AT A SENIOR LEVEL AND TO ENTRUST HIM WITH SIGNIFICANT RESPONSIBILITY IN MATTERS INVOLVING GAMING.

As I digest the public records request forwarded to me, I will have more questions.  I will be writing this story for publication no later than Friday Morning July 19, 2012.  Please respond by then.  If you do not respond, I will reference the questions asked of you and that you refused comment.

I would prefer emailed responses to these questions in order for there to be a record of our communications.

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