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The State House News report on confirmation of Cheryl Jacques as Mass. judge:



By Gintautas Dumcius

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MARCH 26, 2008…..An independent panel on Wednesday approved Cheryl Jacques, Gov. Deval Patrick’s nominee to the Industrial Accidents Board, by a 6-1 vote.

The Governor’s Council, charged with vetting the governor’s judicial nominees, okayed the pick after delaying the vote last week over questions regarding the campaign account of the former state senator.

Last week’s postponement came after the Boston Herald reported that Jacques has $127,000 in an open campaign account and had made donations to former colleagues and Patrick.

A former state senator from Needham, Jacques said in a letter to councilors that she will meet with the State Ethics Commission and the Office of Campaign and Political Finance to get fully briefed on the rules and regulations regarding her campaign account and her position as an administrative judge on the board, which adjudicates workers’ compensation cases.

In the letter, Jacques said she would take “all the necessary and appropriate steps, if appointed, to ensure that I am in full compliance with such laws, rules and regulations.”

“More specifically, I can assure you that I have no intention of engaging in any political fundraising for my campaign account nor do I intend to use my campaign account’s funds to make political contributions to political candidates during my tenure as an Administrative Judge,” she wrote. “If allowed by law, I may use the campaign account’s funds from time to time to donate to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognized charitable nonprofit 501 (c)3 organizations.”

The dissenting vote on the council came from Mary-Ellen Manning, who voiced skepticism over Jacques’ letter.

“She knows damn well how to deal with the funds,” Manning said after the vote. “She could’ve written five checks and gotten rid of the money by today.”

A former assistant attorney general, Jacques, who runs a consulting practice called CJ Associates, is also the former head of a national gay rights campaign and once attempted a run for Congress.

Manning said she voted against Jacques primarily because she believed Jacques lacked the qualifications for the job, despite the Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Advisory Council last year finding her qualified for the appointment. Jacques also received praise from former state Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and others familiar with the IAB’s work.

“There are lawyers with twenty years of experience in this field who got passed over,” Manning said.

The appointment carries a six-year term and an annual salary of $107,000, putting her past the 20 years of state service necessary to collect a full pension.

Councilor Marilyn Pettito Devaney said she was comfortable with her vote, since the administrative judges don’t have the same duties as other judges who come before the council for confirmation, and can’t bring in their personal philosophy. Jacques has the “temperament and compassion” for the position, she said.

Devaney said she would be watching for donations to charities, but didn’t have any concerns about the $500 Jacques donated to Patrick during the Democratic primary, since Jacques also donated to other Democratic candidates. “The notion she bought her way into this appointment has no validity,” Devaney said.

She was echoed by Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, who presides over the council.

“There’s no quid pro quo,” he said.