Jun 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

U.S. attorney finalist trashes Labor secretary

U.S. attorney finalist Rachael Rollins is seen juxtaposed against Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

Rachael Rollins and Marty Walsh. Photos: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images (Rollins); Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images (Walsh)

A finalist for U.S. attorney in Boston is publicly trashing the city's former mayor — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

Why it matters: Rachael Rollins’ approach is perpetuating scrutiny of a troubled Cabinet secretary and fellow Democrat — and hints at the independence she may exhibit if tapped for top federal prosecutor for Massachusetts.

  • It’s also testing the Biden communications shop’s tight-ship, no-drama approach, and would provide fuel for Republican questioning in a prospective Senate confirmation hearing.

Driving the news: Rollins, district attorney of Boston-based Suffolk County, has repeatedly complained about Walsh distancing himself from a scandal that emerged just before he started working in Washington.

  • In a last-minute move, the outgoing mayor named Dennis White to be the city's new police commissioner.
  • Two days later, Walsh suspended White after The Boston Globe reported he had faced domestic violence allegations from his ex-wife.
  • Walsh's replacement, acting mayor Kim Janey, fired White, but he sued to retain his job.
  • An independent report and subsequent court proceedings included sworn affidavits stating Walsh knew about White's past before putting him in the new job — something Walsh has denied in statements to the media.

What they're saying: “Somebody signed something under the pains and penalties of perjury. For me that has to trump … somebody just saying, ‘Yeah, that never happened,’” Rollins told "Boston Public Radio" last month.

  • "I think our former mayor left a very big mess for our acting mayor," she added.
  • Another Democrat, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), said Walsh should resign if he knew about the White accusations.

In an interview that aired Sunday, Rollins went further.

  • “This is a bad situation overall, because either he knew about it and he’s lying, or he didn’t know about it and you’re a terrible manager, right?” the DA told WCVB-TV’s “On the Record."
  • Rollins also confirmed she is one of three finalists for U.S. attorney.

The statements renewed a stir in Boston's political community, in part because Rollins would be teammates with Walsh if she joins the Biden administration.

  • Administration nominees tend to remain silent while being vetted.
  • Rollins has now engaged in two high-profile interviews, the second coming after the first renewed scrutiny of Walsh.

The White House declined to comment.

  • Rollins said Tuesday in a tweet: "This unforced error has cost our City millions & counting. As taxpayers, we foot the bill. It has distracted attention away from the hard work BPD does in our communities every day. Being silent & meek isn’t in my job description. We have murders to solve."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct that the U.S. attorney covers the entire state, not just the eastern half of Massachusetts.

Go deeper