UNITED STATES NEWS

Justice Department watchdog finds US attorney in Massachusetts tried to influence DA election

May 17, 2023, 8:17 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said in a report released Wednesday.

The inspector general’s 161-page report alleges a broad array of misconduct by U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins. It accuses her of disclosing to a journalist nonpublic information about a Justice Department investigation, soliciting and accepting 30 free tickets to a Boston Celtics game and accepting payment from a sports and entertainment agency for travel and means.

The watchdog said Rollins used her position to try to influence last year’s race for the Democratic nominee for district attorney of Suffolk County, which includes Boston, by leaking a potentially damaging information about District Attorney Kevin Hayden while supporting his political rival.

The investigation also determined that while serving as U.S. attorney, Rollins helped Hayden’s rival in the race, Ricardo Arroyo, by “providing him campaign advice and direction and coordinating with Arroyo on activities to help his campaign.”

Rollins’ lawyer told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Rollins will resign by the end of the day on Friday, saying she “understands that her presence has become a distraction.”

The AP was the first to report in November that the inspector general’s office had opened an investigation into Rollins over her appearance last July at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. The AP reported that the probe had expanded to examine other issues, such as Rollins’ potential use of her personal cellphone for Justice Department business.

It’s an extraordinary rebuke of the progressive former Boston district attorney, who twice needed Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a tiebreaking vote to be confirmed as U.S. attorney amid stiff Republican opposition.

It’s exceedingly rare for a U.S. attorney to resign amid ethics concerns. Her resignation is an embarrassment for the Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland, who pledged to restore the Justice Department’s reputation for political independence after tumultuous years under Republican President Donald Trump.

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Justice Department watchdog finds US attorney in Massachusetts tried to influence DA election