Coakley draws ire of Boston paper

John O'Brien Oct. 19, 2009, 3:19pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - A Boston newspaper is criticizing state Attorney General Martha Coakley's stance that she can not speak about her current job while compaigning for U.S. Senate.

A Boston Herald editorial titled "Not-so-artful dodge" says Coakley is obeying a law that does not exist when she refuses to answer questions about a possible use of state campaign funds for the federal race.

"I'm not going to talk to you about it," the Democrat told a Herald reporter, according to the editorial.

"Her campaign manager, Kevin Conroy, later insisted that state law prohibits Coakley from answering questions about her work as attorney general while campaigning or questions about her campaign while wearing her attorney general hat.

"The former assertion is, of course, just plain stupid. The attorney general doesn't cease being attorney general even when she's at a campaign event. And last we heard no one has yet repealed the First Amendment."

The Herald even asked several experts for a Saturday article.

In the article, Coakley defended her actions.

"For instance, we can't discuss campaign issues when we're in the State House, for one thing. And reporters involved in that understand that or should understand that," she said.

"What? This leaves me breathless. You can't make this stuff up," Harvey Silverglate, a civil liberties expert who's taught at Harvard Law School, said in the article. "It's not only an astonishing statement - it seems to me to be patently unconstitutional. It shows a disturbing ignorance of the duty of a campaigner and a disturbing ignorance of the First Amendment."

Coakley shows a 53-percent approval rating as attorney general in a September Suffolk University/7NEWS poll. The general election for the late Ted Kennedy's seat will be held in January.

Kennedy passed away Aug. 25 and had been in office since 1962.

Coakley, 56, has been the state's attorney general since 2007 and has also been a district attorney. She received her law degree from Boston University.

The poll also showed that 59 percent of Democratic voters would have voted for U.S. Rep Joe Kennedy, Ted's nephew, had he chose to run, but he did not. Coakley is running against U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, among others.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

More News