Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Story about frontrunner in Mass Biotech Council Post

Rumors about new Mass Bio Council president...


Former selectman and state Rep. Robert Coughlin, who left the Legislature for an economic development job in Gov. Deval Patrick's administration, is in the running to head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, an influential lobbying group.

Coughlin, the current undersecretary for business development, last week said he would recuse himself from work on the governor's 10-year, $1 billion plan to boost the life sciences industry to avoid any potential conflict of interest.

``Massachusetts Biotechnology Council is a membership organization and its potential membership will be increased by the passage of the Governor's Life Sciences Initiative,'' Coughlin said in a statement filed with the State Ethics Commission. ``Until a selection is made, I will recuse myself from all matters related to the biotech and life sciences industries.''

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council has been looking for a new president since former House Speaker Thomas Finneran resigned in January due to legal problems.

The council lobbies state lawmakers on behalf of more than 500 companies and institutions involved in health care and life sciences.

Coughlin, a Dedham High School graduate, served on the Dedham School Committee from 1991 to 1994 and on the Board of Selectmen from 1995 to 2003. He defeated Maryanne Lewis to represent the 11th Norfolk District in the state House of Representatives in 2002 and resigned from that post in January to join the Patrick administration.

The undersecretary of business development works to encourage economic growth and job creation in Massachusetts by acting as a liaison between businesses and state government.

On Wednesday, a day before disclosing his interest in becoming council president, Coughlin announced the state had added 23,500 jobs since he took office.

Sarah MacDonald, deputy chief of staff in the department of business development, said yesterday Coughlin had no comment about his interest in the council presidency.

Calls to the council itself yesterday were not returned.

State Sen. Jack Hart, D-Boston, also filed a disclosure statement with the ethics commission expressing interest in the Council position.

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