The other day I’m relaxing and I get a call from a person I’ll call Rebecca who I’ve been friendly with for years. Rebecca said in passing she was applying for a job at a big corporation. She didn’t know it but I know someone, I’ll call her Sally, who is closely connected with the person doing the hiring. I though Rebecca would be an excellent fit for the company and told her I would call Sally to put in a good word on her behalf. Is it unfair to all the other applicants that I put forth Rebecca for the job? I suppose in a sense it is since Rebecca will probably be given more consideration because of my input than other people in her position who didn’t have someone putting in a good word. If Rebecca gets hired, will someone who considers herself more qualified than Rebecca be able to sue Sally for malicious interference with her business relationships or for not hiring her? If the US Attorney in Boston gets wind of it, will Sally get jammed in because she gave Rebecca a push?
The suggestion that there is something wrong with someone giving a friend or acquaintance a leg up runs contrary to how our society operates. In the political sphere it is considered as patronage which is as American as Groundhog Day or March Madness. Did you notice how many people President Obama hired because he knew them and they helped him in his campaign? I’m sure you are aware that whenever there was a change of administration in this country that office seekers flocked to the nation’s capital looking for work. Most of them came with letters from people who had helped the new president. Postmaster and Customs jobs were highly sought after and went to those who were highly connected.
This time honor custom reared its ugly head the other day when the president’s pick for ambassador to Norway went before the Senate that had to approve his appointment. Of course the president picked the most qualified person, as you’d expect. His choice was Greek Businessman George Tsunis. After his Senate appearance the headline on the townhall.com internet site read: “OBama’s Ambassador to Norway Knows Nothing About Norway.” It seems the president did not pick the most qualified man. Mr. Tsunis’s qualifications for the job is his deep pockets. Or, as one article noted his true credentials: “As a bundler for Obama in 2012, Tsunis raised almost a million dollars for the campaign, and donated $300,000 to the Democratic Party.”
No one is screaming for Obama’s indictment. No one is suggesting that Obama is engaged in some type of racketeering offense by giving jobs to people who raise lots of money for his campaign. The reason is that we accept that politicians will do favors for their big donors or big supporters or people they know. The same way we expect a guy who runs a business will hire his nephew if he is qualified over other people.
How is it then that in Boston what is considered patronage has been turned into a criminal act punishable by 20 years in prison? How is it that John O’Brien and two others in the Commonwealth probation department were indicted for hiring people who were recommended to them by politicians and judges? There is only one explanation that I can see when this time-honored custom becomes a federal offense; it is because the Boston Globe did a Spotlight Series on the probation department and forced the US Attorney to follow-up on their article with indictments.
No one wants to point to the Globe Spotlight Series/Boston U.S. Attorney connection. Yet it stands out like the beacon from a lighthouse when one wonders what in the world brought about the indictments of these three individuals who spent their crime-free lives working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Remember none of the individuals indicted put a penny in his or her pocket; the benefit they gained is that by hiring people who were recommended they were able to get an increase in their budget. I wonder if there is an agency or department in the Commonwealth, or for that matter in any other state in the Union, that has not hired a person who was recommended by a legislator or judge. Any person in such agency that did should be worried that she may be committing a federal offense.
The US Attorney’s office as sycophant to the Boston Globe has unfairly jeopardized the liberty of three hard-working citizens. The blanket silence in all the Boston media over this tragedy of justice shouts out loudly as to the cowardice of our free press. Like patronage or not, it is a fact of life and is not criminal. Only through a wrongful relationship bespeaking of a conspiracy could it become that. Those involved should feel ashamed of their actions.