State Capitol Briefs – Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014




Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday replaced the chair and executive director of the Sex Offender Registry Board, Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral announced. Anne Connors, an investigator at the Department of Early Education and Care, is taking over as chair. Sept. 17 was former chair Saundra Edwards’s last day. A Wednesday release from the Executive Office of Public Safety said Connors will be transitioning into her new role in “the coming weeks.” Jeanne Holmes has also been replaced as executive director, the administration said in the release. Holmes was “placed on leave” as of Sept. 17. Connors is tasked with hiring a permanent executive director while the Sex Offender Registry Board’s general counsel, Kevin Hayden, serves as interim executive director. Terrel Harris, a Cabral spokesman, called the matter a “personnel decision” and said “we’ll provide no additional comment.” Connors worked as a social worker and in 1986 joined Early Education and Care, managing a licensing program for northeastern areas in Massachusetts. She was promoted to investigator in 1993. She has a degree in social work from Syracuse University. Hayden, the interim executive director, has served as general counsel since September 2013 and previously served as chief of the Safe Neighborhood Initiative unit with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. The remaining members of the Sex Offender Registry Board include Vesna Nuon, Dr. Laurie Horowitz Humbert, Dr. Maria Piccillo, Emilio Cruz and Tracey Downs. One seat is vacant, according to the governor’s website. – G. Dumcius/SHNS


Two new super PACs appear primed to wade into the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. Earlier this week, two officials from EMILY’S List, a Washington-based group that supports and fundraises for female candidates, signed onto a Massachusetts WOMEN VOTE! independent expenditure PAC, according to a filing with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Denise Feriozzi, the political director for EMILY’s List, is listed as the chair, and Victoria Kempter is listed as the treasurer. In the space for listing specific issues and interests, the group wrote, “To support Martha Coakley,” the Democratic nominee. Feriozzi runs the EMILY’s List program, dubbed WOMEN VOTE!. She has also worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and the Democratic Governors Association, according to a biography on the EMILY’s List website. Neither Feriozzi nor Kempter was available for comment. On the Republican side, a pro-Charlie Baker super PAC titled the “American Comeback Committee” formed on Monday to support the candidacy of the Republican nominee, according to a separate filing with OCPF. The filing lists Philip Cox of McLean, Virginia, as the chairman, and Michael Adams of Louisville, Kentucky, as the treasurer. Adams is a partner in the government relations practice group at the law firm Dinsmore. According to a biography on the firm’s website, he has previously served as the Republican Governors Association’s in-house general counsel and continues to serve as the group’s general counsel from Dinsmore. The pair was also unavailable for comment on Wednesday. The two super PACs join a crowded field of similar entities, including Commonwealth Future, a pro-Baker super PAC led by Beth Lindstrom, a former official in Gov. Mitt Romney’s administration, and funded by the Republican Governors Association. An anti-Baker super PAC, known as the “Massachusetts Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee,” is being funded by the Democratic Governors Association and Bay State unions. – G. Dumcius/SHNS


Under legislation that cleared the U.S. Senate Tuesday night, federal employees who enroll in the Thrift Savings Plan will be automatically enrolled in a fund with higher returns for their retirement rather than the current “overly conservative” fund, according to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The Cambridge Democrat on Wednesday promoted the bipartisan support for the Smart Savings Act and said companion legislation, also with bipartisan backing, has been approved by the U.S. House. Under the bill, federal employees will retain their discretion to choose more or less conservative investment options. According to Warren’s office, Thrift Savings Plan administrators support changing the default enrollment to so-called lifecycle funds that adjust automatically for participants as they age. Warren introduced the bill with Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman. – M. Norton/SHNS

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