AG Maura Healey backs Olympics referendum


This was originally posted on The Boston Herald's website

By Matt Stout

Attorney General Maura Healey said this morning she supports a referendum gauging the public's support of an Olympics bid.

"I think that again this is an important issue and I support the efforts to put this to a vote so people's voices can be heard on the matter," Healey said during her appearance on Boston Herald Radio's "Morning Meeting.".

If proposed statewide,  as former gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuck has championed, the referendum would have to be cleared through her office.

The Democrat said she'll also review any potential ballot question put to her office to ensure it's easy to understand and passes "constitutional muster."

Boston 2024 today ran full-page advertisements in the Boston Herald and other newspapers promising to only submit a bid to the International Olympic Committee if a "majority of people in Massachusetts support bidding for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Mayor Martin J. Walsh yesterday appeared to soften his stance on a potential voter referendum, telling the Herald that if someone proposes one, "certainly that's the will of the voter."

Healey also said Boston 2024, the nonprofit group leading the push to bring the Olympics to Boston, should voluntarily go beyond what it's legally required to disclose financially because of the amount of money and attention involved in its pitch for the 2024 games.

As a nonprofit, Boston 2024 is already required to make public certain information, but Healey told BHR hosts Jaclyn Cashman and Hillary Chabot, "I think it's bigger than that, beyond sort of what their legal obligations may be."

Healey's calls for transparency add to a growing level of scrutiny of Boston 2024, which earlier this month released salaries for staff and consultants after pressure from Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

"I think what we've already seen – because this is such a significant deal, it's such a significant amount of money (and) you want to be wary of special interests -- that they should always be erring on the side of providing more information," Healey said. "As attorney general, I'm going to work to make sure that that happens."

Boston 2024 has in recent weeks weathered criticism over its decision to pay former Gov. Deval Patrick $7,500 a day to serve as a global ambassador for the group. Patrick suddenly reversed course last week, saying he'd help the effort but with no fee, just hours after Walsh said on Boston Herald Radio that he felt Patrick shouldn't be paid "at all."

Healey said she thought it was the "right thing" for Patrick to work for the group pro bono.

"I was troubled. I don't think the governor should get paid," Healey said. "Part of what is concerning to people, there is so much money tied up with this. If you look at the salaries and the consultant salaries to date, it's amazing. It's amazing what people are being paid. It just underscores to me that this is such a significant issue."

Healey, a former professional basketball player, added she "loves" the Olympics, noting she once was invited to try out for the women's Olympic basketball team.


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