It’s assumed, with good reason, that mothers would go to great lengths to help their sons. That’s why, when it comes to government and politics, the appearance of favoritism can cause problems. Gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman weathered some mild embarrassment this week when it was revealed — via the state’s newly passed campaign disclosure law — that his mother, Shirley Grossman, was a major benefactor of a super PAC attack ad that aired on her son’s behalf. Meanwhile, some have raised concerns about the fact that Ann Berwick, the chair of the state Department of Public Utilities — and the wife of gubernatorial candidate Donald Berwick — helped to negotiate the details of solar-industry legislation while sitting across the table from her son, a lobbyist who stands to gain financially from the bill.
Berwick, who says she was objective and professional, was right to file “appearance of conflict of interest” disclosures twice during the negotiation process. Still, she should have recused herself earlier as well, for the sake of herself, her son, and her husband’s candidacy. A mother’s love is priceless. But a mother’s political favors, real or imagined, can carry a price.