Rachael Rollins mucks up more than her promising career by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.

Rachael Rollins seemed to have such promise. She was a gutsy woman, highly articulate in a no-nonsense way. Willing to stand up to hardened criminals. Eager to challenge a cookie-cutter system of justice with an ingrained preference for incarceration for low-level crimes when diversion and other alternative punishments could work even better. The rate of recidivism when she was Suffolk County District Attorney attests to the promise of her philosophy. It’s no surprise that she ruffled the feathers of tough-on-crime politicians and prosecutors, many of them Republicans.

But it’s pretty hard for her progressive supporters, including Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth, who championed her nomination for U.S. Attorney in the face of harsh opposition, to stand by her today. Two federal corruption probes make clear her ethical problems. Notwithstanding her credentials and her track record as D.A., she is accused of multiple transgressions and announced her intention to resign.

Her attendance at a July 14 Democratic National Committee fundraiser featuring Jill Biden, even showing up in a government car driven by a government employee, all in violation of the Hatch Act, was not a simple misstep. She high-handedly dismissed repeated staff warnings not to go. The office of US Inspector General Michael Horowitz found other ethical lapses at a similar level.

But that was the least of what seems to have been a pattern. She also solicited and accepted tickets for a Celtics game, some of which were for charitable purposes and two of which were for her personal use. (Think popular former MA House Speaker Charlie Flaherty.) Questions were also raised about Rollins’ handling of privately funded travel and lodging expenses.

Worst of all, it seems clear Rollins tried to influence the outcome of the election to fill the D.A. position she was vacating, counseling Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo’s bid for the office and leaking non-public DOJ information to the press in order to destroy the reputation of his opponent, then interim-D.A. Kevin Hayden. Allegedly she lied under oath to federal investigators, denying she was the source of the damaging information. This is behavior worthy of a Trump insider! Just consider the politicization of the DOJ under Trump administration Attorney General William Barr. The public has a right to expect a higher standard of behavior from those entrusted with enforcement of the law.

Sometimes information is leaked to the press for the greater good. Think the Pentagon Papers. But this leak was to advance her personal political agenda. Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner, author of one of the reports, said “Ms. Rollins’s conduct in leaking non‐public DOJ information constitutes an extraordinary abuse of her authority.”

She’s too smart to just not get it. It’s both sad and outrageous if she thought the erstwhile success of her combative outlier style placed her above acceptable norms. Is it too much to expect that leaders, especially those with great promise, will demonstrate behavior above reproach? It’s hard to chalk this up as just another example of an institution in which the public has lost trust. This is personal. Supporters of Rachael Rollins, the first black woman to be named to one of the preeminent prosecutorial positions, are angry and disappointed. This is an unfair but real blow to the Black community, and Black women are especially let down. To be sure, the Biden administration was responsible for vetting her candidacy, but Markey and Warren have egg on their faces. And Rollins’ enemies on the right and opponents of criminal justice reform sanctimoniously bellow, “We told you so.” We are all ill-served by this turn of events.