Governor Deval Patrick confirmed he will testify tomorrow in the federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, while also defending the government's decision to purchase the type of software that has become the focal point of the case against the former State House leader.
Kicking off his monthly appearance on WTKK-FM, the governor confirmed he would be testifying but refused to say much else about the case.
“I'm going to respect the process," said Patrick. "We’ve cooperated with the process throughout, and I’m going and answer whatever questions they put to me, or do my best to do so, and I want to confine my testimony to the courtroom, because I think that’s what I’m supposed to do. When it's over, we can talk about it.”
Asked whether, as a citizen, he has been disappointed by the testimony so far, Patrick defended the broader group of public officials and government workers.
“I think that … overwhelmingly the people I deal with up on Beacon Hill are not goofing off. They are doing their very best to bring their very best to their work day after day. The problem is there is so much supposition that it's not that way that when something goes awry, everybody says, 'Well, that just confirms my worst fears.' ... And so in that sense, it's very disappointing and sad episode. But the process is working the way it's supposed to.”
DiMasi, Richard Vitale, a financial adviser, and Richard McDonough, a lobbyist, face corruption charges including conspiracy, honest services fraud, and mail and wire fraud in allegedly using the speaker’s office to steer two contracts totaling $17.5 million to Cognos in exchange for secret payments.
McDonough received more than $300,000 for his work, and Vitale was paid $600,000. Prosecutors say the payments to Vitale were to be funneled to DiMasi once the speaker retired, which he did in January 2009.
The state signed a $4.5 million deal with Cognos for Department of Education software in 2006, and a $13 million contract in 2007 for a statewide enterprise license allowing for open use of Cognos business intelligence and performance-management software.
Lawyers for DiMasi and the associates say they are not guilty and that they were simply lobbying for a legitimate project the state needed. Lawyers for DiMasi also argued that the former speaker never mentioned the name Cognos while advocating for the software.
Patrick himself defended the bigger of the two contracts, which his administration later voided after questions about the procurement process.
"Let's be clear about one fact: The addition to the bond bill for this contract did not mention a particular vendor; it mentioned a particular type of software to track the way the government spends its money. And on the merits, that is not a bad idea, I mean, conceptually, that's not a bad idea," Patrick said.
The governor said such technology has allowed the state to post online how it spent every dollar of federal stimulus money it received.
"You know what? That's a pretty good thing, particularly after the experience with the Big Dig,'" he said.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.