Mass. state senator sanctioned after release of ethics report

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Senate has barred state Sen. Dean Tran from interacting with his staff except through official emails in the wake of an ethics investigation.

The action followed the release of a report Thursday that found the Fitchburg Republican had his staff conduct campaign work during regular Senate business hours during his 2018 campaign and was aware that his staff was performing campaign work on state time, using public resources.

The report also found Tran asked his staff to engage in inappropriate fundraising work using public resources during the 2018 campaign and continued to expect his staff to do campaign work to prepare for his 2020 reelection campaign. Tran’s campaign manager threatened at least one Senate staffer with termination if the staffer did not work on Tran’s 2020 campaign, the report found.

The committee recommended Tran to be removed from his position as assistant minority whip for the remainder of the legislative session and be segregated from his staff and that his contact with them only be in writing, using Senate email, and strictly limited to official Senate business.

Democratic Senate President Karen Spilka said the recommendations were adopted Thursday by the Senate in “a bipartisan and unanimous manner.”

In an email, Tran disputed the findings.

“The Senate Counsel report is riddled with lies and hearsay to fit a narrative and there was no opportunity to challenge the credibility until the report was published,” Tran said. “I was personally attacked in the 2017 special election, they tried to attack my voting record in the 2018 election, and I expected the same this year, but what I didn’t expect was for the attack to come by way of the internal and partisan process. “

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