I do not believe Martha Coakley has demonstrated the progressive leadership and sound judgment that would permit me to support her in a Democratic primary for the U.S Senate seat vacated by the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy. The judgment of Martha Coakley as an Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County, as the Middlesex County District Attorney, and as Attorney General can be called into serious question on a number of fronts.
First, as an Assistant Middlesex DA she recklessly overcharged and tried Louise Woodward with second degree murder, when the evidence supported, at most, an involuntary manslaughter indictment. This assertion was supported by a post conviction ruling by the Superior Court judge who tried the case involving the drowning of toddler Matthew Eappen in Ms. Woodward’s care and ultimately reduced Woodward’s conviction to involuntary manslaughter.
Second, elements of the dubious post-conviction prison release agreement she struck with Cheryl Amirault LeFave, one of the two defendants in the notorious Fells Acre Day Care Center case, as Middlesex DA in October 1999 struck me as being against the public interest. Namely, I objected to Coakley requiring LeFave to forgo all media interviews in exchange for her release on time served and agreeing to serve ten years probation following her release. Such a prohibition on all media interviews by a key stakeholder in this highly controversial child sex abuse case contradicts the public’s Constitutional “right to know,” represents an unconscionable effort at prior restraint, and raises serious questions about Coakley’s commitment to open government.
Third, while it is difficult to assess Coakley’s brief performance as state Attorney General, her record thus far is unimpressive. For example, I challenge Coakley supporters to demonstrate any effort she has made to break the downtown corporate law firm/state government/high finance/big business complex that has resulted in shady state government bond deals being consummated during the 1990’s and this decade to finance everything from the Big Dig, to our crumbling higher education buildings, to the white elephant of the Massachusetts Convention Center. The sweetheart bond deals completed by these law firms, quasi-independent public authorities, financial companies, key state legislators, and corporate interests have resulted in Massachusetts taxpayers being gouged for tens of millions of dollars in dubious bond commissions to financial companies, kickbacks to legislators, and exorbitant legal fees obtained by well-connected downtown Boston law firms. Coakley has not supported any legislation to curb the corrupting power and adverse influence that some of these quasi-independent public authorities have had on our politics, public sector management, and fiscal situation. Martha Coakley, like her AG predecessors Tom Reilly and Scott Harshbarger, has been notably silent about this form of accepted public corruption in the Commonwealth.
Let’s see a genuine progressive announce his or her candidacy to replace the dearly departed Senator Kennedy before we anoint Martha Coakley the next U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.