December 7, 2012

Mass. admits error in highway official's hiring

The Associated Press

BOSTON – Massachusetts Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan was one of two people who former highway safety director Sheila Burgess said referred her to the job, but Heffernan said Friday that Burgess should never have been hired given her spotty record.

Burgess was removed from the highway safety job last month. Her personal driving record includes multiple accidents, traffic violations and license suspensions.

In August, she sustained a head injury in a crash while driving a state vehicle.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who has described Burgess' hiring as a "screw-up," also said in a Friday statement that Burgess should not have been hired.

The highway safety director's duties include overseeing public campaigns on the dangers of speeding, impaired driving, texting while driving and not wearing seat belts.

Heffernan said in a statement Friday that Burgess' driving record and criminal record were checked, but the driving information was not shown to the hiring manager at the time.

"Had the hiring manager been aware of the record, Ms. Burgess would not have been offered this job," Heffernan said.

Where the job application asked who referred her for employment, Burgess listed Heffernan and U.S. Rep. James McGovern, who had employed her as a fund-raising consultant.


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