Category Archives: Boston Politics

Expulsion in the House – Frank Gethro, 1906

Painful as the expulsion of Rep. Carlos Henriquez may have been for House members, it could have been worse. When Representative Frank Gethro was expelled in 1906, he was at the center of a bribery scandal in which the local district attorney subpoenaed the entire House. This was a problem because many of the legislators had in fact been taking bribes to kill a bill outlawing “bucket shops,” shady brokerage businesses that competed with established houses. For a scandal of that magnitude the House sought the one attorney who could deal with such monumental outrage, as Patrick S. Halley relates in his book Daniel Coakley: America’s Most Corrupt Politician.

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James Michael Coakley? ‘I Did It for a Friend’

An increasing cadre of Massachusetts politicians is showing up on what the Boston Herald terms “bombshell ‘sponsor’ lists” kept by the state Probation Department encompassing “stunning documents” detailing recommendation letters. So are politicians fleeing the frenzy?

Actually many of them proudly own up to their efforts to help constituents get jobs and some are utilizing my all-time favorite defense from James Michael Curley, the “I did it for a friend” excuse. The deftest channeler of The Rascal King has been none other than Attorney General Martha Coakley.

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Should Boston bid to host the Olympic Games?

I write about the potential of the Olympic Games to foster greater international mutual understanding, even if unintentionally and indirectly.

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Battle for Democracy: New Populism vs. Dark Money

My UMB Colleagues Tom Ferguson and Jie Chen with their collaborator Paul Jorgenson are just out in Salon with a dire caution: Big money is destroying American populism. They find some reason for optimism in the elections of Bill de Blasio in New York and Marty Walsh in Boston, driven forward by union money. Nonetheless, their research shows that our partisan politics is largely a contest of different factions of the one percent, more in the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Still, populist Democrats have to confront the realities of their party’s funding sources.

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Hail! Marty Walsh and Tom Menino

As Professor Ubertaccio wrote yesterday we don’t have many formal ceremonies in politics. The inauguration of a new mayor is an important one so let me reflect on some positive qualities of our now former and newly inaugurated mayors, Tom Menino and Marty Walsh.

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Menino’s absence at today’s inauguration

Inaugural events are bigger than the people taking an oath of office.  That’s why Mayor Menino should be at the Conte Forum today.

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Yes It’s Corrupt: Marty Money and Connolly Cash

The other day I posted AFT Proud and argued that the American Federation of Teachers secret half-million dollar expenditure on behalf of Marty Walsh’s campaign for mayor of Boston should be considered an emblem of a corrupt campaign finance system. Some fellow Twitterers were dismayed that I would use the word corruption but I stand by the word and its meaning.

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AFT Proud

CSI Campaign Finance, aka Wesley Lowery of The Boston Globe, continues to unravel the mystery money spent on behalf of Marty Walsh by independent expenditure groups. On December 27 Lowery published American Federation of Teachers revealed as funder behind mysterious pro-Walsh PAC during campaign. Oddly the AFT spokespersons seem very proud of their secret $480,000 contribution to democracy. Their conduct suggests something other than pride; it reveals the corruption at the heart of our campaign finance farce-ocracy.

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Our Campaign Finance Farce-ocracy

That was some story in The Boston Globe yesterday, Outside Spending on Mayoral Finalists hit $3.8m. We can go to the OCPF website and see who gave directly to Mayor-elect Marty Walsh and Councilor John Connolly, but the Globe’s Wesley Lowery says that the OCPF’s report “does not specify where the money spent by outside groups came from. State law allows their donors to remain confidential until January.”

God forbid voters should know who kicked in the millions of dollars in independent spending in this sort-of-democracy of ours.

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A Political Comeback for the Catholic Church?

Abortion, same-sex marriage – it’s been a long time since the State House asked “what does Lake St. think?” before taking a policy position (Lake St. being until recently the residence of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston). Lately though, there have been signs that the Catholic Church may reassert itself.

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