MassFiscal Investigates Baker Climate Official

Ismay Commented He Wants to “Break their Will” and “Turn the Screws On” Ordinary Citizens

On Friday, the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance published a new video of David Ismay, Governor Baker’s Undersecretary for Climate Change, telling a group of Vermont advocates that in order for Massachusetts to lower carbon emissions, the state needs to “break their will” and “turn the screws on” ordinary people to achieve the administration’s climate goals.  Since then, the video has been viewed over 15,000 times and may be viewed on MassFiscal’s YouTube page by clicking here.


Ismay gave the remarks on January 25 at the Vermont Climate Council meeting. He says, “So let me say that again, 60% of our emissions that need to be reduced come from you, the person across the street, the senior on fixed income, right… there is no bad guy left, at least in Massachusetts to point the finger at, to turn the screws on, and you know, to break their will, so they stop emitting. That’s you. We have to break your will. Right, I can’t even say that publicly...”


Today, MassFiscal filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with Ismay’s office seeking to know how often Ismay used these phrases to describe his role within the Baker administration. On Friday, Governor Baker was asked about Ismay’s comments and responded that no one working for him should “say” or “think” what Ismay said but stopped short from firing the controversial undersecretary. A copy of MassFiscal’s FOIA letter may be found by clicking here. Ismay’s office is required to respond to MassFiscal’s request by February 22, within 10 business days.


“Since the video became public, it’s been widely shared across both Massachusetts and the rest of the country as a whole. The general public deserves to know if these words are routinely used and these attitudes commonly held by the undersecretary and his staff as they carry out the work of the people of Massachusetts,” stated Paul Diego Craney, spokesperson for Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.


“If Governor Baker continues to refuse to dismiss Ismay, then the public has the right to know more about how the administration’s top official for climate change intends to ‘break their will’ and ‘turn the screws on’ ordinary people including the ‘person across the street’ and the ‘elderly on fixed income.’ Ismay acknowledged he shouldn’t have said these comments publicly, but he did and MassFiscal is seeking to know through our FOIA request how often he also said them privately,” concluded Craney.

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