Well, just wandering around the convention kiosks I ran into both Mass AG Maura Healey and former Setti Warren (and Deval Patrick) campaign manager John Walsh. Always great to talk to both: Healey is the indispensable woman in Massachusetts, and nationally; one could imagine a very different race if she were running for governor. (Or even higher office — yes I’ll float that.) John Walsh is a great thinker, strategist and eternal ray of hope.
We do have stuff to do here in MA.
Please share widely!
So why didn’t she run for Governor? I have tremendous respect for her AG record, but it’s odd to hear people talk about how formidable she and other rising stars are, yet, they never run.
She’s still not sure she’s a politician. The only reason she got into electoral politics is because that is how you get to be AG and she wanted the internal promotion. She’s doing great work right where she is and how has AGs reaching for the brass ring worked out in the past?
I hope that somebody who is at the convention and posts at BMG asks Healey about the fraud in the Sonja Farak case, and why Healey seems to think she can protect the assistant AG’s involved.
I would hate to think a chance to rub elbows with celebrities is all it takes for people to become afraid to ask them anything uncomfortable.
As I’ve mentioned here before, shortly after she took office I asked her a very similar question about the Annie Dookhan scandal.
I explained to her that production labs in the Massachusetts biopharma industry have rigorous processes in place to monitor their own QA processes, in order to detect and then end the kind of failures that produced both the Annie Dookhan and Sonja Frank scandals. These processes have been known and documented for decades, and every legitimate lab follows them. They involve things like injecting calibration samples into the line to ensure that failures are identified by whatever QA process is being applied to the line.
I asked her what steps she planned to ensure that such processes are applied to state labs, so that scandals like the Annie Dookhan scandal did not recur (this was before the Sonja Farak case had been published).
Her response was, to paraphrase, something along the lines of “Oversight of these drug labs was not and is not within the scope of my office.” She explained at some length that various prosecutors do not report to the AG and that other agencies are responsible for oversight of the labs used by the various prosecutors.
Ms. Healey was friendly and not defensive. I left with the impression that she sincerely believed that she had given me a responsive answer and that no more needed to be said or done.
I am, sadly, reminded of the way that Tom Reilly reacted to the unfolding clergy sex scandal. He explained — correctly, I think — that Bernard Law and the perpetrators had been explicitly exempted from the various statutes of the time and that there was no more his office could do. Tom Reilly sincerely believed that his office had no role in prosecuting one of the largest sex abuse scandals in history. That sincere belief is one reason why I would never support Tom Reilly for higher office.
I like Maura Healey. I think she’s an articulate, responsible, and hard-working attorney general. I think her response to these lab scandals is exactly what she and every prosecutor is trained to do (as was Mr. Reilly’s stance towards the clergy sex abuse scandal).
Sadly, I think that training is arguably inappropriate for the state Attorney General, and unquestionably wrong for the governor’s office.
This comes down to the same question we see over and over these days — when we see that the law is either wrong or silent regarding a clear social issue, what do we do?
I want an Attorney General who recognizes that two major scandals that result in tens of thousands of defendants being convicted with fraudulent data provided by state-operated labs is a major problem for state law enforcement. In my view, the correct response is for the AG to aggressively, loudly, and effectively do whatever is needed to correct the issue. I think this is especially important when the solution to the problem has been known for decades. Any company that did what these state labs did would be immediately shut down. It’s executives would probably be prosecuted themselves.
A major issue with state governance today is the widespread — nearly unanimous — perception that state government is pervasively corrupt. I demand that ANY candidate who comes to a gubernatorial campaign from a law enforcement background be especially responsive to this legitimate opinion.
Maura Healey does not yet, in my opinion, meet this criteria. She may well feel that it is inappropriate for her to take the position I demand as AG. I respect that, and in my view that alone is a good reason for her to choose not to join the gubernatorial race.
Of course, another good reason is that it will be very hard for any Democrat to win the November general election. Ms. Healey is young and may well be a much stronger candidate in 2022.
More to the point, two Assistant AG’s were found by a judge to have defrauded the court. They have gone on to other state jobs with big raises.
When Healey was asked about this last summer, she mumbled something about not agreeing with the judge. Since then she’s been hiding from the issue.
Most of the misconduct in the Farak case took place late in Martha Coakley’s administration of the AG’s office. That hardly makes a difference. If the Attorney General is not going to do anything to investigate misconduct and fraud which took place in the AG’s office, who will?
The message that Healey is sending to law enforcement officials in the Commonwealth couldn’t be clearer. “If you cover up our misconduct, we’ll cover for you.”
I wish you would give it a rest. You seem to be the only one who brings this up.
The Sergeant Schultz award for that comment, Christopher. You give me way too much credit. I’m just picking up on what the ACLU. WBUR, and the national press have reported.
But as I recall from previous discussions you lay this a lot more directly at Healey’s feet than is warranted.
It’s important to me as well, and I’m frankly appalled that it isn’t important to you.
We are talking about two MAJOR scandals where state-managed criminal labs fraudulently manipulated evidence. In the second case, judge Richard Carey described the behavior of two assistant AGs as “fraudulent”. Each of those two is still employed by the state.
Are you saying that it isn’t important that the AGs office fraudulently manipulated evidence? Is it ok with you that tens of thousands of defendants have been damaged by these frauds?
If you agree that such abuses should never happen, who ELSE do you think is responsible for ensuring that these don’t recur?
“I wish you would give it a rest.”
This epitomizes the attitude that drives voters who care about effective government away from the Democratic Party.
This really IS a scandal, and Ms. Healey is not yet doing nearly enough about it.
Ms. Healey was a protege of Ms. Coakley, and it is not surprising that Ms. Healey is reluctant to open the closets of her predecessor when those closets almost surely contain skeletons.
The facts in the Sonja Farak case are even more sordid than the earlier Annie Dookhan scandal. As bob-gardner reminds us, the judge who handled this was quite clear in condemning the acts of two assistant attorney’s general.
From this May 2018 NPR report (emphasis mine):
The “lower court judge”, Richard Carey”, was extraordinarily clear in his condemnation of the two prosecutors in question, Kris Foster and Anne Kaczmarek.
Sadly, a quick Google search also confirms that Mr. Foster and Ms. Kaczmarek do indeed still work for the state (I have not confirmed that they got “big raises”). Mr. Foster is now the General Counsel of the state Alcholic Beverages Control Commission. Ms. Kaczmarek is now Assistant Clerk Magistrate at Suffolk County Superior Court Criminal Clerks Office.
It is appalling to me that these two individuals are still employed by the state. That alone exemplifies the pervasive culture of corruption that I find so distasteful. I’m quite sure that it’s perfectly legal.
Mr. Foster and Ms. Kaczmarek should, in my opinion, have been fined and incarcerated. They knowingly defrauded the commonwealth and intentionally harmed thousands of defendants.
These two scandals are a national disgrace (these two are the worst cases of prosecutorial fraud in current American life) and shameful embarrassment to every Massachusetts resident.
I agree with the summary offered by bob-gardner in his conclusion. I sincerely hope that Ms. Healey finds a way to re-invent her posture on this issue.
Note to editors: When I include the supporting links to the various statements I make here, the new spam filter marks my comment as spam. There is hopefully a way to fine-tune this mechanism. The ability to link to supporting data is an important way that we maintain a high quality of content on BMG.
Charley on the MTA says
I’ll try to tweak those settings. Thanks