Rachael Rollins resigns as U.S. attorney after damning accusations of 'abuse of authority'

U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins at a media roundtable in Boston in January 2022. (Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins at a media roundtable in Boston in January 2022. (Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

On the heels of two damning investigative reports, Rachael Rollins officially resigned from her post as the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts on Friday.

In a brief resignation letter to President Biden, Rollins said it was an honor to receive his nomination in July 2021 and thanked the president for his support during her "contentious confirmation process." First Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy will serve as acting U.S. attorney following Rollins' resignation.

Federal investigators released the results of their probes on Wednesday describing allegations of several ethics violations and lapses by Rollins.

Over hundreds of pages, the separate reports by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel broke down sweeping accusations that Rollins, 52, abused her authority as U.S. attorney. Ahead of their release, Rollins pledged Tuesday to resign by the end of the work week.

Both reports focused largely on an apparent scheme by Rollins to leak privileged Justice Department information to help Ricardo Arroyo, the candidate she backed for the Suffolk Country district attorney role she vacated, win a 2022 Democratic primary race against then-interim Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden.

Rollins allegedly sent reporters at the Boston Globe and Boston Herald information about Hayden. In one instance, this included "sensitive, non-public DOJ information" about a possible federal investigation into Hayden in an apparent attempt to damage his odds of winning the election. The reports also detailed dozens of text exchanges between Rollins and Arroyo, who ultimately lost the primary, that focused on Arroyo's campaign strategy and creating negative media coverage of Hayden.

The Office of Special Counsel, which sought to examine whether Rollins violated the Hatch Act, the law that prohibits federal employees from taking part in political activities, called Rollins' repeated contact with Arroyo an "egregious" violation of the law.

Following the investigations, there have been calls for Arroyo, who is currently a Boston city councilor, to resign. At-Large City Councilor Erin Murphy and the nonprofit Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance said Arroyo's involvement with Rollins during the campaign goes beyond acceptable politics.

Once billed as one of the most progressive district attorneys in the nation, Rollins' political status soared in her Suffolk County role as a DA unwilling to prosecute more than a dozen low-level crimes. Her path to become the first Black woman appointed U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, however, was the subject of fierce debate in the U.S. Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie between deadlocked senators who voted firmly along partisan lines.

Although the reports say Justice Department officials declined to criminally prosecute Rollins for the alleged violations, her license to practice law could be in jeopardy.

If the Massachusetts Office of Bar Counsel decides to investigate the violations outlined in the reports, it would make a determination about potential sanctions against Rollins. The Board of Bar Overseers would then hold hearings and recommend potential discipline that could range from a public reprimand to disbarment. The State Supreme Judicial Court would then have to approve any recommendation.


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