Attorney General Martha Coakley took to Suffolk University Law School’s Rappaport Center Tuesday as part of the institution’s roundtable series in which gubernatorial candidates make their pitch to Massachusetts residents on why they belong on Beacon Hill. The Democratic hopeful outlined a number of ways in which she hopes to better the commonwealth should she succeed Governor Deval Patrick, but strikingly contradicted herself and put on display what’s perhaps her biggest flaw.
For the most part, Coakley said all of the things those in attendance wanted to hear. She’s a staunch proponent for job creation, a reduction in state healthcare costs without compromising quality of care, an increase in minimum wage, and will fight vigorously for education reform.
“[The] Next governor has to lead a Massachusetts that’s prosperous and fair,” Stated Coakley matter-of-factly. “The next governor has to transform school systems into places where every child in Mass. has the opportunity to do his or her best.”
She wants to foster the Bay State’s burgeoning tech industries – from clean tech, to biotech, to high tech, etc. – emphasize STEM education in the classroom and, as she noted multiple times, perhaps the overriding theme of her campaign, “take on challenges to be a voice for fairness and equality.”
She did a fine job challenging the constitutionality of the Defense Against Marriage Act in order to support same-sex marriage as well as holding big banks accountable by reaching a $60 million agreement with Goldman Sachs for subprime loan and lending abuse – though she did settle in lieu of going to court – but when she discussed fairness and equality, she meant more than just the socioeconomics scene. She also said she wants to treat those she prosecutes and has prosecuted with fairness and equality.
To which I simply wondered, huh?
Aside from those two aforementioned court cases, Coakley’s arguably most prominent judicial undertakings were charging former Massachusetts Treasurer Tim Cahill and former Commissioner of Probation Jack O’Brien with corruption- and conspiracy-related charges based on status-quo conduct in their respective offices.
And in both cases, during and post, she in no way extended a fair and equal hand to either man. Keep in mind, too, that neither were convicted.
In the case with Cahill, Coakley and her cronies alleged that he used lottery funds to promote his own Independent campaign for governor. The ads merely touted the lottery’s success – perfectly fair game – and made no mention of Cahill or his bid for Beacon Hill.
Here is the description of the lottery ads as noted by the Boston Globe in October 2010:
The lottery ad, titled, ‘Permission,’ began running Sept. 27 and will continue until Nov. 30. It is appearing on radio and television, with essentially the same script. The TV ad shows images of boats, firefighters and other scenes depicting beneficiaries of lottery proceeds.
‘Massachusetts is home to the most successful state lottery America,’ it says. ‘That’s the result of a consistently well-managed lottery — and luck has nothing to do with it.’
Ads like these are in no way against the law. In fact, in March 2013 Globe columnist Adrian Walker referred to this practice as “the normal business of politics.”
Coakley and Cahill eventually settled out of court, slapping him with a $100,000 fine that was to be paid over a five-year period of which he was prohibited from subsidizing with any campaign funds he may have had on hand.
But Coakley was unfair and unequal to Cahill in two distinct areas. First, she made Cahill pay out of pocket. That might seem like fair enough punishment for someone settling corruption charges but, in August 2013, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray agreed to an $80,000 settlement with Coakley for his part in accepting unlawful campaign contributions of which he was allowed to pay $50,000 with campaign funds.
No fairness and no equality for Cahill.
In the case of O’Brien – who faces federal racketeering, corruption, and fraud charges for supposed rigged hiring practices in the Department of Probation – fairness and equality comes in the form of restoring a man’s name, reputation and livelihood.
Coakley charged O’Brien with five counts of ” conspiracy to commit bribery,” as noted by a Boston Globe article from April 2013, encouraging his subservients in the department to attend, and donate to, political fundraisers in exchange for getting friends and family governmental jobs.
The same Globe article notes that Probation employee Edward Ryan “recanted sworn testimony he gave in 2010 that the fund-raiser and Laurie O’Brien’s attempts to secure a job with the state lottery, which was overseen by [Tim] Cahill, were not related” in exchange for immunity.
O’Brien was acquitted of state charges to which Martha Coakley stated, “We are disappointed in this verdict and believe the evidence showed that Commissioner O’Brien traded campaign contributions for a taxpayer-funded job for his wife.”
In January, the Boston Herald released a bombshell piece of evidence (see: below) which showed that O’Brien’s alleged rigged hiring system was commonplace not only in his respective department, but in the entire Massachusetts Trial Court.
One would think that a state-level acquittal – in tandem with evidence that essentially proves O’Brien was a scapegoat for Trial Court practices – would warrant a semblance of an apology from Coakley, or at least an attempt to restore the man’s reputation which is now beyond repair. The fact of the matter is, Coakley’s press office released a single media item related to O’Brien since she announced his arraignment in 2011.
Sure, Martha Coakley has been fair and equal in regards to discriminatory social issues and economics issues, but she stated in plain English that she is for treating the prosecuted just as fair and equal. And she has yet to prove she’s actually done so.
What do you think? Is Coakley hypocritical in her views toward treating those she prosecutes as fair and equal? Are there any other instances where she’s been fair and equal to those she’s prosecuted? Lay your thoughts and ideas down in the comments section below.