Trouble Brewing in MA-10 House Race? UPDATE: Shoe Drops

Guy Benson
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Posted: Oct 06, 2010 4:15 PM
I've received word that a fairly significant development may be about to become public in the hotly-contested House race in Massachusetts' 10th Congressional District.  Charlie Cook rates the contest as "Lean Democratic," and Real Clear Politics calls it a pure tossup.  (The seat is open following the retirement of Democrat Bill Delahunt, who may have been unnerved by Scott Brown's dominant performance in his Eastern Massachusetts district this past January).

We introduced you to the Republican in this race, Jeff Perry, last month.  The Democratic nominee is Norfolk County District Attorney Bill Keating, whom Republicans have dubbed Plea Bargain Bill--clearly implying Keating is soft on crime.  The NRCC is circulating evidence collected in a local media expose that suggests Keating may have earned the unflattering nickname:

As District Attorney Of Norfolk County, Keating Has Been Soft On Rapists.  “Rape cases provide a stark contrast between Norfolk and Plymouth counties.” (Karen Eschbacher, “Investigative Report; Bargaining For Justice; Do A Crime, Serve Less Time In Norfolk. Das Take Different Routes To Justice,” The Patriot Ledger, 6/25/05)
 
“Criminals Charged In Norfolk County Are More Likely To Get A Plea Deal With Less Prison Time Than Those Who Commit Similar Crimes In Plymouth County, According To A Patriot Ledger Analysis Of Court Data.” (Karen Eschbacher, “Investigative Report; Bargaining For Justice; Do A Crime, Serve Less Time In Norfolk. Das Take Different Routes To Justice,” The Patriot Ledger, 6/25/05)
 
“The Patriot Ledger Examined 20 Norfolk County Cases Disposed Of Through Plea Agreements In Which A Defendant Was Initially Charged With Forcible Rape Or Attempted Rape. The Actual Rape Charge Was Dropped 13 Times. Defendants Instead Pleaded Guilty To Lesser Charges Such As Indecent Assault And Battery, Or Simple Assault And Battery. Compare That To Plymouth County, Where Forcible Rape Or Attempted Rape Charges Stuck In 9 Of The 11 Pleas Reviewed By The Ledger.” (Karen Eschbacher, “Investigative Report; Bargaining For Justice; Do A Crime, Serve Less Time In Norfolk. Das Take Different Routes To Justice,” The Patriot Ledger, 6/25/05) 
 
“While The Norfolk Defendants Who Pleaded Guilty After Being Charged With Forcible Rape Or Attempted Rape Received An Average Minimum Sentence Of 1.7 Years, Those In Plymouth Got 4.6 Years.” (Karen Eschbacher, “Investigative Report; Bargaining For Justice; Do A Crime, Serve Less Time In Norfolk. Das Take Different Routes To Justice,” The Patriot Ledger, 6/25/05)

The Perry campaign is also hitting Keating for an interview he gave on Boston television, in which he defended his campaign's relentless focus on a long-resolved controversy involving illegal strip searches conducted by a subordinate of Perry's when he was a Wareham, MA police supervisor in the early 1990s.  When the interviewer asked Keating if the people of the 10th District may simply consider it a non-issue at this point, Keating was insistent.  It's a major issue, he contended, and the people he wants to represent would and should care--if only they weren't so ignorant.  "They don't know, they don't read the papers," he said.  (Note: Insulting voters may not be the most effective public endearment strategy ever devised).

Given Keating's spotty record in prosecuting forcible rape as District Attorney, his outrage over these inappropriate police searches (of which his opponent took no part) seems a little bit forced.

We'll wait and see if my sources are correct that a major conflict-of-interest shoe is dangling by a thread in this race.  If it drops, we'll report it immediately.

UPDATE (4:05pm ET): Conflict. Of. Interest.
Norfolk District Attorney William Keating has accepted campaign donations from a lawyer representing a man charged by Keating's office with attempting to gun down an off-duty firefighter last year.

Keating, A Democrat running for Congress in the 10th district, received two donations from attorney John McGlone in August totaling $1,545, according to an Associated Press review of campaign records. McGlone also co-hosted a Quincy fundraiser for Keating in August.

McGlone represents Robert O'Connell, charged with attempted murder after being arrested for shooting Milton firefighter Joseph Fasano during a confrontation. Keating's office is prosecuting O'Connell.

Keating's campaign did not immediately respond when asked for comment. McGlone also did not immediately return a call.

Wow.  If this story is accurate, Keating has accepted campaign donations from, and has held a political fundraiser with, an attorney for a man his office is currently prosecuting for attempted murder.  Even if that is technically legal, it reeks of a legal ethics violation, and at the very least, demonstrates disqualifyingly poor judgment on Keating's part.  This AP report could prove to be a decisive factor in this razor-close race.