BOSTON -- Two local legislators are asking Attorney General Martha Coakley to investigate Planned Parenthood's hiring of former state Rep. Marty Walz as the organization's CEO, alleging that it's a violation of the conflict-of-interest law.
State Reps. Marc Lombardo and James Lyons wrote in a letter this week to Coakley that Walz was a leading sponsor of the abortion clinic "Buffer Zone Law," and was then hired to a position directly related to that law.
"The question we are asking is simple. Is there a violation of the conflict-of-interest law when a legislator sponsors a law on behalf of an organization, then that same legislator is hired to a position in that organization that has paid $250,000 per year?" according to their letter to Coakley.
Lombardo, R-Billerica, and Lyons, R-Andover, sent the request to Coakley's office on Thursday. Walz, a Democrat, was appointed Planned Parenthood's CEO in early 2013, but the local legislators sent the letter now because of a recent Boston Globe article that mentioned Walz sponsoring a law for Planned Parenthood in 2007.
The abortion clinic buffer zone law "prohibits any type of demonstration for or against abortion within a 35-foot zone around driveways and entrances of abortion clinics," according to the article. This month, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the law.
"That article brought to light the issue, and the more we talked about it, we believe it's an absolute violation of the conflict of interest law," Lombardo said on Friday. "The law is pretty clear. You can't work on an issue for an organization as a state employee and then be rewarded with a job from that organization after. There's a 'forever ban.'
"When one member of the Legislature does something like this, it paints the whole Legislature in a bad light," he added.
While they hope Coakley launches an investigation, Lombardo wasn't holding his breath on Friday.
"I don't have much faith that she will do anything while campaigning for governor," he said. "It's unlikely she will take on an organization that she hopes to get an endorsement from. It paints a picture of what's wrong with politics."
According to the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts' federal tax filing in 2011, the organization had a $20.5 million operating budget and paid its CEO $251,789.
Planned Parenthood was unable to be reached for comment Friday night.
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