Tag Archives: Probation Department

Who benefits by serial allegations of corruption? The US Attorney’s Office

If federal prosecutors hoped the trial of John O’Brien might have focused our collective attention on the sins of political patronage, they seem to have failed.  It’s the power of the US Attorney’s office that increasingly draws scrutiny.  And not for the first time.

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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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Patronage Heaven

The Boston Herald has been having a field day with the latest developments in the U.S. Attorney’s prosecution of former Probation Department commissioner John J. O’Brien. Should we be “shocked – shocked(!)” at the fact that even our own Massachusetts Trial court maintained a list of politically connected job seekers, much like the list kept by O’Brien?

Not really. As the political scientist Daniel J. Elazar wrote years ago in “Marketplace and Commonwealth, and the Three Political Cultures,” Massachusetts has an individualistic political culture – it behaves like a marketplace, including politicians assisting job seekers in exchange for support.

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Campaign Finance: the New Brown Paper Bag?

I’ve had a hypothesis for a while and not enough time to do the research to test it, but here goes anyway: whereas in times past the greatest danger of political corruption was the straight out bribe, these days it is the fattening of campaign finance accounts. Lt. Governor Tim Murray is the latest politician to run afoul. The campaign finance account is the new brown paper bag.

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Sal DiMasi Comes Home

Sal DiMasi should be getting off the Bureau of Prisons bus by now, possibly to testify against former legislative colleagues in the Probation Department case. DiMasi’s reintroduction to Massachusetts calls to mind the changing face of political corruption. Yes it’s still about money, but the ultimate repository of the money is different. Despite the DiMasi case, Dianne Wilkerson stuffing greenbacks down her bra, and Chuck Turner’s preacher’s handshake, the cascade of money into campaign finance and independent expenditure accounts is the bigger scandal.

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