Massachusetts AG a Model Democrat in the Age of Trump
Partisan state official distracts from incompetence and scandal by filing lawsuits against administration
Maura Healey of Massachusetts is the very model of a modern Democrat state attorney general in the age of Trump — she filed her first lawsuit against the new president just three days after his inauguration.
According to her leading local media cheerleader, The Boston Globe, Healey has since “filed or joined” 11 lawsuits against the Republican administration and “signed another dozen legal briefs,” involving the usual resistance hot buttons, among them the Muslim travel ban, Obamacare, environmental regulations, student loans, and so forth.
In addition, after several widely publicized post-election “hate crimes” in the state by Trump supporters, all of which turned out to be hoaxes, Healey announced with great fanfare a “hate-crimes hotline,” in case the alleged victims couldn’t remember 911.
Healey has also attempted to unilaterally impose new, draconian gun-control measures that Second Amendment advocates and some legislators on Beacon Hill argue are unconstitutional, and her end runs around the legislature are now being challenged in court.
In short, Healey is following the same electoral model pioneered in California by Kamala Harris — grandstanding, showboating and tilting at legal windmills, all of which seem conducive to paving the path from attorney general to higher office, at least in deep-blue coastal states.
Life's been good to Maura Healey, but last week her halo was jolted a bit by a state superior court judge, who accused two former assistant attorneys general in her office of "intentional, repeated, prolonged and deceptive withholding of evidence from defendants, the court and local prosecutors… [conduct that was] egregious and harmful to the administration of justice."
After the scathing 127-page decision last week, Healey's office issued a statement saying there is "no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct by attorneys in the AG's office."
So who is telling the truth — the likely next eventual governor of Massachusetts or Superior Court Judge Richard J. Carey?
This controversy has grown out of the scandal of Sonja Farak, a former state chemist. Between 2004 and 2013, Farak was almost continuously working under the influence of drugs, usually crack cocaine but also heroin, methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy), and LSD, at the state labs in Jamaica Plain and Amherst, where she handled tens of thousands of criminal drug analyses and HIV tests, including some for rape victims.
After her 10-year binge on stolen narcotics, Farak pleaded guilty in 2014 to drug theft and tampering and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
Now defendants in her drug cases are seeking to have their convictions overturned. Last week Judge Carey tossed seven of the convictions, ruling that conduct by the attorney general's office during the investigation had sunk to "a depth of deceptiveness that constitutes a fraud upon the court."
Whom do you believe, the politician or the judge?
Let's go to page 35 of the judge's scathing 127-page decision. After Farak's arrest in 2013, the Massachusetts State Police began investigating just how many criminal cases she had compromised. One of the MSP detectives, Sgt. Joseph Ballou, discovered that during a drug raid in 2012, the Springfield Police had confiscated 51 oxycodone pills — the gold standard of prescription opioids.
The "oxies" were turned over to Farak for analysis, but she issued a certificate saying the pills were not illegal. When the Springfield Police retrieved the pills from the drug-addicted chemist, they discovered that instead of returning the original 51 oxies, Farak had given them 61 pills with colors and markings different from the potent oxies.
Ballou emailed Assistant Attorney General Anne Kaczmarek about the switch. According to the judge, "Kaczmarek dismissively replied in an email to Ballou, 'Please don't let this get more complicated than we thought. If she was suffering from back injury, maybe she took the oxies.'"
The judge continued: "When asked to explain that reply, Kaczmerak testified in December 2016 that she feared that if Farak's drug tampering turned out to be more complicated than they had thought, 'an avalanche of work' would hit 'us.'"
The judge's ruling listed other unethical acts by Kaczmerak and another assistant attorney general, Kris Foster, whom the judge faulted for "lack of a moral compass."
Most of the worst behavior by the attorney general's office occurred during the tenure of Martha Coakley. But Healey has continued trying to keep the most damning details from public disclosure.
For example, in April 2016, Healey filed a "Motion to Impound Grand Jury Materials and Report" on the scandal involving her office.
Then Healey's office filed a second motion to "impound its request for its Motion for Order of Non-Dissemination of Information."
In other words, Healey wanted not only to seal the shocking evidence, but also to seal her request to impound the evidence against her office.
The Farak case includes any number of tricky local political angles for Healey. First of all, although she was not attorney general during the worst of the abuses, she did work in the office before her election, from 2007 to 2013.
During the investigation, the MSP discovered that Farak was under treatment for addiction, and that she kept "worksheets" detailing her drug use. But as Coakley campaigned for governor, her office adamantly refused to release the smoking-gun documents until nine days after Coakley was narrowly defeated by Charlie Baker, in November 2014.
Under Healey, the AG's office has continued what the judge described as "stonewalling."
"Most recently and surprisingly, in 2017," the judge wrote, "the AGO (attorney general's office) denies having had any legal obligation to turn over the mental health worksheets to district attorneys because the AGO had not prosecuted the drug lab defendants. That position is at odds with the fundamental principles of fairness." (go to page 2 to continue reading)