Before being accused of going negative in the 11th hour, let me point out that the JP Gazette just released this story
, it is a new story (not like the crap the Bean tried to pull when she just rehashed 3 month old stories.) and I have more to add to that story. I think it merits discussion regardless of the timing of the election.
In 2005 then AG Tom Reilley brought charges against then State Senator Diane Wilkerson on corruption charges. When Coakley was elected AG, she inherited the case. Instead of pursuing the hard line that Riley had taken with Wilkerson, she settled the case.
“But the settlement included an unnoticed extra benefit for Wilkerson: immunity against any type of civil or criminal penalty for any campaign finance reporting violations she may have committed at any time through 2007.
This immunity aspect of the settlement became significant when new corruption charges were brought against Wilkerson in 2008 by the FBI.
“A conviction on any of those charges-or even some alternative explanations not involving bribery-could lead to related state charges or complaints, including for filing inaccurate campaign finance reports.”
The shear amount of different corruption charges that Wilkerson has been accused of make it difficult to talk about, so it bears repeating. Coakley settled a case that began in 2005 by extending immunity for Wilkerson into 2007. The FBI is pursuing an entirely different corruption case that began in 2008 for bribes taken in 2007.
The key is obviously that Coakley gave Wilkerson immunity for the time frame in which she was taking bribes. So she can’t pursue that charge. In other words, Coakley couldn’t pursue Wilkerson’s case if she wanted to. She tied her own hands.
This is certainly a blunder, and an embarrassing one at that. But, mistakes happen. It is not like she knowingly or intentionally gave her immunity to the 2008 Federal charges.
The big problem is that Coakley said she did not pursue Wilkerson because she didn’t have the resources. This is not true. She could not have pursued regardless of resources because she had granted her immunity for the time period in which she accepted bribes.
Bob Oakes, WBUR: But in your record, as was pointed out in a recent Boston magazine profile of you, you allowed federal prosecutors to pursue the recent indictments against former Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi and former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, and there’s some suggestion that not moving on those issues was political, knowing that going after popular State House leaders causes political problems during campaigns because supporters of those leaders would be less likely to support you.
Boston College law professor Bob Bloom says in that Boston magazine article: “I found Martha to be a less than courageous prosecutor.” Respond to that.
Coakley: The federal government has a huge budget, they can target cases, they have grand jury tools and investigatory tools that the state does not. And they also have the ability to have statutes that have penalties that are nowhere near what we have on the state level.
They have the FBI, they have folks who will focus on, you know, turning a witness, etc. We don’t have those tools. And maybe the legislature for whatever reason doesn’t want an attorney general to have the tools. But if you want the kinds of results that the federal government gets, you have to give someone the tools. No one understands that better than I.
There is no mention at all of the immunity Wilkerson had, no mention of the 2007 settlement at all. She instead frames it in terms of a lack of resources. This is patently false. If she had all the resources in the world, she could not pursue Wilkerson. And she absolutely knows this because she is the one that signed the documents that granted immunity.
I don’t know why she misstated these facts.
The real answer to why she did not pursue Wilkerson is because she granted her immunity. She could not pursue her if she wanted to.