Who else was invited to stay for free?
By Josh Resnek
Did Encore executives reserve a suite for the mayor and his family and others associated with the city at the hotel the night before the opening on June 23, 2019, and if they did, why has the mayor not itemized the payment for the suite on his recent campaign finance report?
Questions in some quarters have arisen about whether or not the mayor paid or was given the suite pro bono by Encore, which is not allowed for public officials under Massachusetts ethics law 268A.
Encore did in fact provide a complimentary suite for the mayor and his family, the night before the hotel opened officially to the public, according to Wynn Resorts Vice-President Michael Weaver.
“Mayor DeMaria was not charged for his room on June 22 and his counsel submitted a disclosure of that fact to the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission. Since it opened to the public on June 23 and began charging for rooms, Encore has not offered or permitted any complimentary rooms for any elected official,” Weaver told the Leader Herald.
The mayor – all mayors in the commonwealth and municipal officials – are required to pay personally or from their campaign account for such a suite or for any gratuity given to him over $50.
MGL 268A,s,23(b)(3) prohibits public employees including state legislators from accepting anything worth more than $50 which is given to them “for or because of an official act…performed or to be performed by such employees.”
The mayor stayed with his family in the suite at the Encore Hotel the night before the opening.
They prepared for the day on the 23rd in the suite.
Several other Everett municipal officials were also allegedly provided rooms by Encore, this despite written e-mail warnings from City Solicitor Colleen Mejia sent out a week before the opening, instructing city employees and municipal officials not to accept gratuities over $50 from Encore or anyone for that matter.
The complimentary suite given to the mayor and his family on June
22, which included his parents, would have rented for $1500 or higher, depending on what the market would allow for, on the 23rd.
On the 23rd, shortly before noon, the mayor was one of four featured key-note speakers sought out by Wynn Resorts to kick off the official opening.
In fact, he delivered a highly emotional speech, crying at times, complimenting Steve Wynn (who was no longer with the company he founded at the time) and profusely complimenting Wynn officials and Encore executives in what some of the mayor’s critics believe was a quid pro quo.
Whether or not accepting the complimentary suite is a conflict of interest is up for debate.
The State Ethics Commission apparently logged in the communication from the mayor’s counsel and took no subsequent action.
This is typical behavior for a state agency that requires a formal complaint of a violation before launching an investigation.
As a rule, the mayor is required to pay for all such travel and hotel expenses from his campaign expense account.
A thorough review of the past two filings with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance by the DeMaria Committee did not reveal payment to Encore Boston Harbor for the suite the mayor and his family stayed in the night before and the morning of the opening.