Relationship with Keolis – Too Close for Comfort

A public records request from the Globe in October reveals a closer relationship between Governor Baker’s administration and commuter rail contactor Keolis than expected. The lobbying and media firm that was hired by Keolis to help coordinate publicity for Baker’s approval of a $66M extension to their contract is headed by Baker’s former campaign manager Will Keyser. Keyser also headed up a failed ballot initiative push for more charter schools, a privatization target that in addition to transit was also supported by the Baker administration.

Baker assures that his administration’s interaction with Keyser is limited only to communications strategies and does not edge into management or policy decisions. Emails that Baker’s office voluntarily released however may hint at a different story. In one email, high-ranking Keyser staff set agenda items for bi-weekly meetings with the MBTA and state Department of Transportation. Other emails show high-ranking Keyser staff expressing interest in helping the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board but warned they must stay “behind the scenes because of Keolis relationship.”[1] Such close coordination calls into question the kind of undue influence private interests represented by Keyser may have on the very administration that is supposed to be holding them accountable.


[1] “Baker consultant wields influence on commuter rail, charter schools,” Boston Globe, Oct 2016.

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