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State senator Dan Wolf to resign seat, suspend gubernatorial campaign

State senator Dan Wolf will resign his state Senate seat after an ethics ruling related to his co-ownership of Cape Air.Michael Dwyer/AP/File

Democratic state senator Dan Wolf, whose stake in Cape Air has drawn scrutiny for its business with the state, said Thursday morning he was resigning his seat and suspending his gubernatorial campaign while fighting an Ethics Commission decision.

"Until this matter is resolved, I am suspending my efforts to become the next Governor of Massachusetts, believing that unless this ruling is changed I cannot conduct a campaign for real economic and social justice, defining a bright future for the Commonwealth that includes affordable public education, a rebuilt infrastructure, and healthy partnerships between the public and private sectors," Wolf told supporters in an email.


The Ethics Commission has found that Wolf's Cape Air co-ownership runs afoul of state rules governing conflicts of interest.

Wolf's decision removes from the growing Democratic primary field a small-business owner with a progressive voting record, who had curried some support within the party's grassroots.

In the letter, Wolf said that he disagreed with the Ethics Commission ruling. He explained that Cape Air, which he co-founded 25 years ago, has state contracts with Massport based on "fixed fees and leases with identical terms and conditions for any airline that uses" Logan Airport. The operating agreements renew automatically, Wolf said.

The second-term Harwich Democrat said the Ethics Commission ruling on August 2 was executed "without conversation or consultation with me leading up to the vote, no preliminary opinion and no opportunity for input."

The panel said Wolf should either resign his seat, cancel all contracts between Cape Air and Massport, or divest all his holdings from the airline. In his Thursday-morning letter, Wolf said that canceling the contracts with Massport would effectively destroy his company and sacrifice 1,000 jobs. Selling his stake, Wolf said, "would fundamentally undermine the company" by saddling its employees "with serious debt" through Cape Air's employee stock ownership plan, and cause "significant cash flow challenges."


Wolf said he would turn to the state's Superior Court for recourse unless the Ethics Commission reversed itself.

Other Democrats running for governor are Treasurer Steven Grossman, former Obama administration health care official Donald M. Berwick, biotechnology executive Joseph Avellone, and former Obama administration homeland security official Juliette Kayyem.

Jim O'Sullivan can be reached at jim.osullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JOSreports.