State Sen. Dan Wolf says he's continuing his run for governor despite a State Ethics Commission ruling that questioned his eligibility as a candidate and lawmaker citing his ownership stake in Cape Air.
The opinion, which Wolf received last week, found that Cape Air's agreements to fly in and out of Logan Airport amount to a conflict of interest and that Wolf would have to address the conflict or abandon his run for governor and resign from the Legislature.
Wolf, a Cape Cod Democrat, said the ruling runs counter to an initial conversation he had with commission staff when he was first mulling a run for governor and an informal opinion regarding his campaign for the Massachusetts Senate before he was first elected in 2010.
Wolf also said that he has included his holdings with Cape Air in his filings to the Ethics Commission since being elected. He said they've never have been flagged as matter of concern until now.
According to the commission ruling, the fact that Wolf owns a 23 percent interest in Cape Air amounts to a conflict of an interest in part because the airline has contracts with Logan that "were not competitively bid, and were not made after public notice."
Those include a month-to-month lease that continues until terminated by either Cape Air or Massport, which runs Logan, and a year-to-year operating agreement dating back to 2002 that rolls over automatically and requires Cape Air to pay specified fees to Massport.
Asked if a state legislator or a governor could maintain the 23 percent interest under state ethics laws, the commission ruled no in both cases.
The commission said the agreements bring up what they called "a substantial issue" under the portion of state law which prohibits state employees from having financial interests in state contracts.
"Consequently, to comply with the law, he must do one of the following: terminate the Cape Air contracts with Massport; entirely and permanently divest his holdings in Cape Air; or resign his current public office and discontinue his campaign for governor," the ruling stated.
Wolf argues there's no conflict because the fees paid by Cape Air are set by Massport under federal regulations and apply to all airlines flying in and out of Logan. He said they are not subject to negotiations.
"Massport took no affirmative action on these contracts while I was a state senator and Cape Air took no action on these contracts while I was state Senator," Wolf said in statement. "I disagree with this opinion and will be working to rectify what I believe to be an unfortunate conclusion based on a flawed process."
Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, said the ruling "seems like a harsh result" and she supports Wolf's efforts to rescind the decision.
Wolf is one of several candidates running for governor next year. Gov. Deval Patrick isn't seeking a third term.
This article was originally published on August 07, 2013.
This program aired on August 7, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.