The controversy over Dan Wolf – the state senator from Cape Cod whose planned run for governor has been upended by the ethics commission — is less about the misapplication of the law and more, as Charles Dickens once put it, because “the law is an ass.” Existing ethics rules help create a political class unrepresentative of the public, they undermine the idea of the citizen-legislator, and they rob our politics of needed real-world insights. Yes, Wolf deserves to run — not as a special exception legislators might make for a colleague, but under a new set of rules that opens up elected office to all comers.
Earlier this month, the State Ethics Commission determined that Wolf, founder of Cape Air, should divest himself of the airline if he wanted to run for governor. In fact, it concluded, Wolf shouldn’t even be a senator. The reason? Cape Air flies in and out of state-owned Logan Airport, administered by the Massachusetts Port Authority. The law says politicians can’t do business with state agencies. Ergo, Wolf is violating the law.