Thursday, March 4, 2010

SHNS Exposes Behind the Scenes Maneuvers on Governor Patrick's 'Bridge To Nowhere'

Chances are, you’ve heard about the Patrick Administration’s unsuccessful attempts last year to funnel $9 million in federal stimulus funding to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to pay for the construction of a footbridge connecting two parking lots Kraft owns along Route 1 in Foxborough. What you may not know, however, is just how far the Administration was willing to go to justify using taxpayer dollars to benefit the financial interests of a multi-millionaire donor like Kraft.

The State House News Service, citing internal communications it obtained from the Administration through a public records request, recently reported that the governor’s senior aides “worked aggressively last fall to rebut negative stories and cast a positive glow to White House questions about Patrick channeling funds to a pedestrian footbridge near Gilette Stadium, the football venue owned by the governor’s friend and political benefactor Robert Kraft…” Reportedly, aides to Vice President Joe Biden had contacted Jeffrey Simon, the state’s federal stimulus czar, “asking him to defend” the funding of the Kraft project when it became public.

According to the News Service, “Patrick and other administration officials had vigorously defended the footbridge on economic development and public safety grounds, after repeated media questions about the friendship between New England Patriots owner Kraft and Patrick, who exchanged prized box seats during State of the Commonwealth speeches and Patriots games.”

Despite an all-out push by the governor, the footbridge was soon pulled from the list of approved projects.