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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mixed message

Why is Tim Cahill smiling after a hung jury could not reach agreement on ethics violations charges against him? And why are the leaders of the Hate the Hacks movement laughing?

The former treasurer and gubernatorial candidate is claiming "total vindication" after a Suffolk Superior Court jury gave up after 40 hours of deliberations.

Really? Thousands spend on lawyers, a political career in tatters and at best found not guilty because he behaved as we have come to expect politicians to behave?

Meanwhile there's chortling over at the new Herald Square, where Attorney General Martha Coakley is the subject of the usual derision we've come to expect after her premier prosecution under the state's tougher ethics law failed to convince a jury of 12 men and women.

The law was enacted after a parade of malfeasance on Beacon Hill, including former House Speaker Sal DiMasi and one-time state senator Dianne Wilkerson. Voters were fed up and demanding an end to business as usual.

In the interim, a man who cut his political teeth pursuing Ahab-like quests against politicians poo-poohed the mere fact the case was brought against what we have all come to decry as the politics we love to hate.

So who's to blame here? An overambitious and failed prosecutor? Lawmakers who booby-trapped the law demanded by voters?

Coakley has yet to decide whether to re-try Cahill, making his vindication claim at the very least premature. And she took the high road against critics -- the same ones who would probably calling for her scalp if she chose to do nothing about the fact Cahill used public money to pay for ads defending the lottery while being attacked, but not over the lottery -- as a gubernatorial candidate.
“I continue to believe in the strength of this case and the strength of our justice system,” Coakley said.
On her side was a stash of e-mails and other messages that showed Cahill and his aides discussed the timing and content of lottery ads scheduled to run at the same time he was running for governor.

Treasurer Tim claimed he was simply trying to defend the lottery against the attacks. But in my mind, the real question is if that was the case, why did his campaign aides handle the issue instead of treasury staff?

There's no disputing the words of one juror:
“It was a complicated crime, and the definition of conspiracy is complicated,” said the juror, who declined to give his name and said he believed Cahill was not guilty. “The jury worked really hard and really long to come to a decision, and, at the end, we couldn’t.”
There's an old line I don't quite understand that declares "politics ain't beanbag." I suppose that suggests there are consequences for every action. Coakley's political future is now being seen as damaged because she did her job in using a law demanded to deal with political corruption.

It may not be beanbag. And it certainly doesn't follow logic. But if I had ambition for public office I would rather be Coakley than Cahill this morning.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dems in this state have set the bar for ethical behaviour so low that the average person (a jury of peers) couldn't have convicted unless Cahill had a new scratch ticket made up promising as a prize, a job in his new administration with himself as governor.

December 13, 2012 8:58 AM  

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