State Senator Dan Wolf, facing a potentially agonizing choice between keeping his interest in his airline company or running for governor, plans to formally ask the State Ethics Commission to reconsider its decision that says he can’t hold public office if he does not divest his interest in Cape Air.
Wolf said yesterday he will submit an appeal to the commission for consideration for its September 19 meeting with hopes he can get his gubernatorial candidacy back on a full footing. The panel’s ruling earlier this month has been a major blow to his candidacy, although he continues to keep to his campaign schedule.
Wolf, a first-term Harwich Democrat, said he is anguished over having to face the choice of either selling off his 23 percent interest in Cape Air, a firm he founded twenty-seven years ago, or abandoning his hopes to be a governor who can implement a progressive Democratic agenda.
“I feel very sad,’’ Wolf said in an interview Tuesday, as he talked of what he faces if the commission sticks to its strict ruling that he can’t hold public office as long as Cape Air has a contract with the Massachusetts Port Authority to operate at Logan Airport.
Wolf contends the airline has “agreements’’ or standard leases—not contracts—with MassPort which he said all airlines at Logan have and that set landing fees. Those rates are set by federal regulation. Wolf said that he never considered the issue to be covered by the state conflict of interest law which bars state officials to have any interest in a state contract.
He said the commission’s demand that he divest his interest in his firm within thirty days of its ruling or give up his Senate seat is not reasonable.
The Ethics Commission said it had warned Wolf as far back as 2010 when he was elected senator that he would be barred from public office if Cape Air had any contracts with the state.
Wolf said the commission never offered any specific guidance.
Wolf is a dark horse candidate in a potentially crowded Democratic field. The ethics ruling comes just as candidates need to line up support, hire campaign staff, and raise campaign funds.Frank Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.