Romney’s budget would have more than doubled MOTT’s funding, to $12 million, giving it plenty of funding to restart its international-marketing program. But Murray and Bosley would have none of it. They slashed his $12 million MOTT proposal down to $7.8 million, with $4 million of that earmarked directly to MacDougall’s MIMP. Clearly, their interest was not in more money for tourism marketing, but more money for William MacDougall.
At the very least, Murray is guilty of bad judgment, in choosing to champion MacDougall, who had been forced to resign from MOTT in 2001, after state auditor Joseph DeNucci accused MacDougall of “inappropriate use” of the state’s money.
That “inappropriate use” includes the failure to report more than $40,000 worth of airline upgrades bestowed upon him by airlines MOTT did business with, which is in direct violation of the agency’s policies. And, according to DeNucci’s report, it also includes thousands of dollars of undocumented, unsubstantiated, or duplicate reimbursements for travel expenses, and personal use of frequent-flyer miles that belonged to the state.
The most damning claim against MacDougall, however, is detailed in materials that were part of the auditor’s inquiry. It alleges that MacDougall reimbursed himself $1007 for an airline ticket that he never paid for. MacDougall insisted it was legitimate, but a Virgin Atlantic Airways manager confirmed that “You have a dirty ticket,” according to an auditor staff memo.
MacDougall denies any wrongdoing, and tells the Phoenix that his leaving MOTT was unrelated to the audit report. Curiously, his personnel file disappeared from the office files, according to two sources.
But the financial misdeeds were only part of the problem — and in fact, prior to 2001, people had been trying to get rid of MacDougall for other reasons.
One was Charles Yelen (now chairman of Tourism Massachusetts), who was MacDougall’s counterpart at MassPort, the other state agency doing international-tourism marketing. In memos to then–MassPort director Virginia Buckingham obtained by the Phoenix, Yelen blasted MacDougall’s “unprofessional and often boorish” behavior. Buckingham, in turn, lobbied Governor Jane Swift.
MOTT’s director at the time, Mary Jane McKenna, had friends in the legislature where she had previously served — most notably Murray in the Senate and Bosley in the House. Both are from districts that rely heavily on tourism as their economic engine: the Cape for Murray and the Berkshires for Bosley.
And both, particularly Murray, had become personal friends with state tourism officials and industry leaders, who regularly took Murray on state-paid international junkets to promote Massachusetts, say people in the field. “She was traveling to Italy every year as part of the MOTT sales missions,” says one.
Several sources say that Murray became “regular drinking buddies” not only with McKenna, but with industry figures such as Sheila Martines Pina, former executive director of the Southeastern Massachusetts Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Debra Catania, whose family owns the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis as well as other vacation properties. Pina, Catania, and Catania’s father were all on the stacked “advisory board” that tried to award the contract to MacDougall in 2004, and Pina, who was recently fired from her Visitors Bureau job, has been placed on the Tourism Massachusetts board. It was Catania, people say, who championed MacDougall to Murray. Just after the original $2 million appropriation was passed, Catania sent a letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Phoenix, informing people in the tourism industry about it, boasting, “I have been working very closely with Senator Terry Murray” to make it happen. Catania did not return phone calls from the Phoenix.