As public policy officials go, Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Stephen Crosby is a standout.

Crosby has worked in both Republican and Democratic gubernatorial administrations; he’s served as chairman of various technology and publishing companies; and he founded SmarteRoute Systems, the innovative traffic jam indicator used by several television and radio stations.

Crosby is as close to “guileless” as they come. If the Commonwealth had a Chief Common Sense officer,  I would have nominated Crosby, which is why his attendance at last weekend’s Suffolk Downs kick-off/Kentucky Derby party  is so mind-boggling. It crosses into to the “What was he thinking category?” in grandiose proportions.

Crosby once joked to me off camera that his primary goal in taking on the thankless task of Gaming Commissioner would be to make sure he was not indicted. He clearly knew then as he does now that the slightest appearance of a conflict of interest could either bust him out of a job or land him in hot water.

For reasons only Crosby can answer, he jeopardized his position in the gaming license face-off by attending a party at Suffolk Downs with people who had a vested interest in the outcome of the distribution of those licenses. To pay $400 to bring  some family and friends to a rundown racetrack to eat a few cold shrimp and watch a horse race on TV hardly seems worth the bigger gamble, a loss of confidence in his ability to remain neutral.