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State hiring of Polito supporters’ son draws criticism

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Like Claude Rains in “Casablanca,” Governor Charlie Baker must be “shocked” at accusations of political patronage going on right under his nose.

After all, candidate Baker in 2014 made clear he was dead set against political hirings and vowed to crack down on the age-old practice.

“I am the only candidate in the race to propose real reforms to state government to root out patronage,’’ Baker told Common Cause when he filled out the good-government group’s questionnaire.

Now, it turns out, the son of a couple who support Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito — a man who left his job as a court officer after an arrest for OUI and leaving the scene of an accident — ended up with a $72,000-a-year job at the office of Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton, a close Polito ally.


The irony that Baker would get ensnarled in such a scandalette got some notice from one of his potential Democratic opponents next year.

“To win votes, he campaigned on specific promises to end patronage and make government more transparent,’’ said Jay Gonzalez. “In governing, he has broken those promises.”

In response, the governor’s office noted that it had made various strides in workforce improvement. “The Baker-Polito Administration has reduced the cost of workforce in state government for the first time in nearly 20 years, saving taxpayers millions of dollars, and has created the state’s first online system for government employment to provide the public with the greatest level of transparency ever available,” said Lizzy Guyton, Baker’s communications director, in a statement.

Curiously, this particular hire’s name and the details of his hiring do not appear on the “new hires” website Baker has touted. Baker aides have so far not explained why.

Meanwhile, when the Globe tried to root out the facts about the appointment, Baker aides said the man’s resume was not a public document.


Well, the Secretary of State’s supervisor of public records, responding to the Globe’s appeal of that rejection, ruled this week that some essential parts of a state government job applicant’s resume are indeed public record.

In response, Baker’s team on Tuesday insisted that resumes should be exempt — but made a handful of specific details of Anthony Virgilio’s resume public nonetheless. Specifically: his hiring date (Aug. 21, 2016), his job title, his years of “relevant experience” (14), and various certifications.

For her part, Polito is denying — sort of — that she had anything to do with the hiring.

“I don’t have the details of that level of hiring,’’ she said when asked by Gintautas Dumcius, a reporter with MassLive. “I certainly have met this family a couple of times through campaign-related events. But the hiring process is one that’s taken care of through our HR team, and it’s not the kind of detail that I would get involved in.”

Later, she told Matt Murphy of State House News Service that she “typically” doesn’t get involved in day-to-day hiring decisions.

“In this particular instance, this person has struggled with some issues, as I understand it, and our administration wants to help people who have issues like that to be able to work and bring work into their lifestyle to help them stabilize, and I’m hoping that is what will happen for this individual,” she told Murphy.


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