It is unseemly to boast, but Massachusetts has a rich tradition of political scandal. Other states may claim to have sent as many public officials to the slammer or to higher office, but Massachusetts has the most impressive variety of sensational sins. Indeed, scandal is one of our five major sports (easily edging out soccer in popularity).
Rep. John Tierney is the latest pol to surprise us. He claims to be clueless rather than complicit, but still he has given us something new to ponder: do we think he’s incompetent, ignorant or corrupt? Let’s not be judgmental; we have elections for that.
Over the weekend, The Boston Globe’s Michael Levenson gave us the latest on this case:
Another brother-in-law of Representative John F. Tierney, this one a fugitive from justice living in Antigua, said Friday that the Congressman was fully aware of the family’s illegal gambling operation, a charge Tierney strongly denied. Robert Eremian’s assertion, in a telephone interview from the Caribbean island where he has been living since about 2002, came a day after his brother, Daniel, said outside a Massachusetts courthouse that Tierney “knew everything” about the offshore betting business.
“I will verify everything that my brother said, which will show John Tierney is lying,” Robert Eremian said. Tierney’s wife, Patrice, is the sister of the Eremian brothers, whom federal prosecutors allege ran a massive gambling ring from Antigua. Patrice Tierney was the first of the siblings to go to jail in the case last year, admitting “willful blindness” to the enterprise, but agreeing to plead guilty to tax fraud for her role in handling Robert Eremian’s bills and taxes in the United States…
Let’s give the congressman more than the benefit of the doubt. Let’s give him some plausible rationalizations. Here are 10 excuses he might try out on a focus group:
10. I was a pioneer in researching whether our state was truly ready to gamble on casinos. It turns out we’re not quite ready.
9. I was too busy watching old movies like “Casablanca” to notice the stacks of cash in my refrigerator.
8. My brothers-in-law must be confusing me with my doppelganger in Somerville.
7. I would’ve taken the fall for my wife, but she said nobody would believe my guilty plea because I’ve got such an honest face.
6. I was so busy investigating crime and corruption in Washington that I forgot to ask my wife if she’d ever laundered millions of dollars for an offshore criminal enterprise.
5. In retrospect, I was naive to believe that my wife had to share a lottery prize with Whitey Bulger.
4. It is so unfair of my brothers-in-law to say I “knew everything.” Not even Al Einstein knew everything, and he was my bookie.
3. How dare people suggest I should have known what was going on in my house since my job is to perform oversight in the House! Until this story broke, I didn’t even know I was on that committee!
2. Why would anyone say I threw my wife under the bus when we don’t even own a bus, only an old armored truck?
1. Think of me as Harrison Ford in “The Fugitive.” I’m totally innocent and will not rest until I find the one-armed man… which is what my brother-in-law calls slot machines.