But at the time of the auditor’s report, neither Murray nor Bosley were powerful enough to save MacDougall or his boss, Mary Jane McKenna, who resigned as director of MOTT in 2002. Nor could they save the international marketing-tourism budget in the budget crisis and post-9/11 decline in airline travel.
This ended the junkets. It also devastated Murray’s friends in the industry, who lobbied her to restore the funding after she became Ways and Means chair when Travaglini became senate president in 2003.
At the same time, Murray found herself forced to defend her senate seat against self-funded challenger Timothy Duncan. People like Debra Catania and their well-heeled friends would prove invaluable, as Murray ran the single most expensive state- senate campaign in Massachusetts history.
She spent a staggering $474,095 — no other senate candidate in the state spent more than $300,000 that year — and her tourism-industry connections were critical to her fundraising. Not only did they personally donate, they hosted fundraising events — including at least two at Debra Catania’s Daniel Webster Inn — and invited their friends to donate.
The doomed bid process was going on throughout that year — in fact, the two Trade Council board members resigned just days after Murray won re-election. And soon after that, Murray and Bosley handed the earmark to MacDougall, who had been openly championed by Catania.
Not much later, the junkets returned. Murray and other legislators went to Russia this past year, paid in part through a grant from Tourism Massachusetts, for instance. That excursion was ostensibly to encourage visitors from a town that, by one industry source’s estimate, might generate a maximum of 35 tourists to Massachusetts.