Setting up what could turn out to be a criminal matter, Massachusetts accountant Richard Vitale, who allegedly lobbied on behalf of ticket brokers in the state but didn’t register as a lobbyist, refused to testify today in a public hearing before Massachusetts Secretary of the State William Galvin. Vitale was asked to explain why the Massachusetts Association of Ticket Brokers is claiming it paid him $60,000 to lobby on their behalf in 2007 for changes to the state’s anti-ticket scalping laws, but he maintains he was only a strategist for the group.
Vitale is a close friend of state House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, and Vitale’s actions, whether as a lobbyist or a strategist, likely contributed to the House passing a bill that would repeal the anti-ticket scalping law. The ticket broker group, led by Ace Ticket owner Jim Holzman, filed documents with Galvin’s office that Vitale was indeed lobbying for them in 2007, but Vitale continues to deny the claim. If he was lobbying, he needed to register as a lobbyist with the state, and he could present conflict-of-interest problems for DiMasi.
The repeal bill is currently languishing in the state Senate, Massachusetts with the popularity of the Boston Red Sox and Celtics, and the New England Patriots, is considered a particularly lucrative secondary ticket market. Even without a new law in place, the Red Sox picked Holzman’s company to be its official brick-and-mortar ticket reseller.
According to the Boston Globe, Galvin received a letter from Vitale’s attorney stating that his client would not attend, partly because he believes Galvin is overstepping his authority by calling Vitale to testify, and did not give Vitale enough time to prepare.
Unless some sort of arrangement can be reached between Vitale and Galvin, the next step is unknown. But Galvin, clearly not amused, is threatening to refer the matter to the state’s Attorney General for possible criminal prosecution.
“When you cut away all the fancy legal talk it comes down to this: Mr. Vitale is not above the law,” Galvin told the Globe. “We have laws that say that people who get paid to influence public decisions need to tell us not only what they were paid but for what they were paid. Mr. Vitale needs to comply with the law.”
(The image accompanying this story is from the Boston Globe)