Governor Deval Patrick strongly denied Friday that he had discussed a potential gubernatorial candidacy by US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz with the leaders of the House and Senate in a private conversation at the State House.
Responding to questions about a report in the Globe, Patrick told State House News Service that the newspaper was inaccurate in reporting that he raised Ortiz’s name as a candidate for governor in 2014 during his meeting with Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo.
“I can you tell you the Globe got it absolutely wrong,’’ Patrick said, according to the report. He did not elaborate.
Citing a person briefed on the conversation, the Globe reported that legislative leaders were stunned when Patrick spoke favorably of Ortiz and left the impression that he wanted them to meet with the federal proscutor.
Her criminal bureau is conducting a grand jury investigation into the Legislature’s involvement in the state Probation Department scandal, which is fraying nerves on Beacon Hill.
“No we did not. No we did not,’’ Patrick said when asked if he and the lawmakers had any conversation about Ortiz.
DeLeo and Murray made no public statement about the Globe report Friday. When asked whether they agreed with Patrick’s assertions, they declined to comment. DeLeo cited the confidentiality agreement the parties adhere to when they hold weekly leadership meetings at the State House.
“The leadership meetings that take place between the Senate president, governor, and me are confidential by agreement among all of us,’’ the House leader said. “I am going to continue to honor the terms of the agreement and not discuss anything that occurred at any of the meetings.”
Murray’s spokesman, David Falcone, said: “We’re not going to comment on that.’’
DeLeo and Murray have said that they are not targets of the probation investigation and maintain that they have not done anything wrong.
The Globe reported Friday that Patrick raised Ortiz’s name as a possible gubernatorial candidate in the Nov. 26 meeting in the speaker’s office, saying she had a great life story.
Ortiz rose from New York public housing, a child of struggling Puerto Rican parents, to the top of the legal profession, a trajectory that mirrors Patrick’s path from urban Chicago to the height of the legal profession before becoming governor.
The person said Patrick gave the impression that he wanted the two lawmakers to meet her.
DeLeo and Murray quickly dismissed the governor’s suggestion, noting that they were not in a position to meet with Ortiz considering the ongoing investigation, according to the person briefed on the meeting. A host of lawmakers have been called before a federal grand jury sitting in Worcester since last spring.
Revelations of the supposedconversation come as Patrick’s lieutenant governor, Timothy P. Murray, a close political ally, is testing the waters for a run for the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
His political standing has been hurt after an early morning car crash 13 months ago and because of his ties with Michael E. McLaughlin, the controversial former Chelsea Housing Authority director.
Ortiz, through a spokeswoman, has declined to comment about the speculation that she will seek the governorship.
Still, her name is consistently mentioned by the media and by Democratic insiders as a potential gubernatorial candidate.
The federal Hatch Act bars her from participating in politics.
If she were to enter a race for governor, she would have to resign the post she has held since January, 2010.Frank Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.