Metro

After husband dies, state auditor takes over business

State Auditor Suzanne Bump embraced her husband Paul McDevitt in June after she read a speech at the Paraclete Center
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File
State Auditor Suzanne Bump embraced her husband, Paul McDevitt, in June after she read a speech at the Paraclete Center.

State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump has taken over her recently deceased husband’s business that provides addiction relief therapy for workers at private firms and labor union members, a move that raises questions about how she will balance her private financial interests with her duties as an elected state constitutional officer.

Bump declined to be interviewed over the holiday weekend about her new role running an enterprise with a staff of more than 20 while also overseeing her powerful Beacon Hill job auditing state programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. Her staff said she would speak to the Globe on Tuesday.

According to recently filed corporate records, Bump is now president, treasurer, clerk, and director of both Modern Assistance Programs and its sister firm, Map Test, Quincy-based for-profit businesses that provide addiction therapy and other programs for substance abuse and mental health issues for a host of private employers and labor unions. The firms were created by her husband, Paul McDevitt, who died in September.

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In late August, McDevitt, in his last days of a long battle with cancer, relinquished control of the firms to Bump, a Democrat who is halfway through her second term as one of the state’s top elected officials.

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If she chooses to run the business, Bump would have to consider whether she wanted to also remain in her job as state auditor and whether to seek re-election to a third term in two years.

If she does not run again, the $138,000-a-year position will set off a scramble of candidates in the 2018 election.

But a quick departure would require the Legislature — the House and the Senate meeting in joint session — to fill the vacancy.

Historically, the House, with its 160 members, and not the 40-member Senate, dictates such decisions. The decision, in fact, lies with the leadership. In the post-war era, past speakers such as John Davoren and Robert Quinn or other top leaders were chosen to fill vacated constitutional offices. A House Ways and Means chairman, John Finnegan, was chosen to fill the auditor’s job in 1981.

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That could open the exit door for House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who has held his position for nearly eight years — a long tenure for a House leader. But because he has shown no interest in assuming a high-paying elected position in government, it is not certain he would be a candidate.

Bump, a former four-term state representative from Braintree, has not developed a strong public profile. But her audits of state agencies and programs have produced significant results.

Over a year ago, her office found more than a half-billion dollars in what it said were “improper payments and potential savings” at MassHealth, the state’s insurance program for the poor and disabled. It discovered a record $13.7 million in public assistance benefits fraud, a jump of 44 percent over what it claimed at the time was “the previous year’s record of $9.5 million” and the fifth straight year of “record-setting findings.”

Bump, the first woman to hold the job after her election in 2010, also served in former governor Deval Patrick’s cabinet as secretary of labor and workforce development.

McDevitt was often recognized for his work helping those with substance abuse and mental problems in the workplace. Early in his career, according to the description by a recovery group honoring his work last year, he “worked in soup kitchens, visited the imprisoned, and helped guide and sustain food banks, substance abuse recovery homes, inner-city youth projects, and homeless shelters.”

Frank Phillips can be reached at frank.phillips@globe.com.