BOSTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Edward Markey reached out to the president of the University of Massachusetts in February on behalf of a politically-connected former aide who was bidding for a lobbying contract from the school, according to a published report.

The Democrat tells The Boston Globe (http://b.globe.com/18nFu3s ) that his phone call on behalf of Stephen Tocco was only to dispel rumors of a falling out between the two men, and not to push Tocco's firm for the $240,000-a-year contract.

A spokesman for UMass president Robert Caret gave the Globe a similar account of the call, saying he felt no pressure from Markey to award the lobbying deal to Tocco over two other bidders.

Markey was a member of the U.S. House at the time. The contact was not illegal.

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Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com