For Rollins, it’s full speed ahead
Awaiting word on US attorney job, it’s business as usual for blunt-talking DA
IF ANYONE THOUGHT Rachael Rollins might trim her sails while waiting for word on whether she gets the nod as President Biden’s choice for US attorney for Massachusetts, they clearly haven’t followed the trajectory of her rise into public life and her style once there.
Rollins, elected Suffolk County district attorney in 2018, was blunt during her campaign about the changes she wanted to implement, and that also fairly describes her approach to issues and other public figures with whom she has disagreements.
When she felt blindsided by the public release of a letter from Baker public safety secretary Thomas Turco criticizing her “do not prosecute” approach to a list of lower-level misdemeanors, she let him have it. (After she went a step further and injected the issue of an episode of alleged groping of a fellow passenger by Baker’s son on a flight to Boston, Rollins conceded that she “could have handled things differently, too.”)
But all of that was all before news that Rollins is one of three names under consideration for US attorney. In April, the Globe reported that Rollins was “undergoing FBIt background checks, the final step before she can be nominated to be the next US attorney for the district of Massachusetts.”
But Rollins doesn’t seem inclined to ditch the tell-it-like-she-sees-it approach that has at times ruffled feathers among the political class, where unfiltered direct talk is hardly the coin of the realm.
On Saturday, after Bill Bratton, the former police commissioner in New York City and Los Angeles (and briefly in Boston) called Rollins “well-intended,” but said she “lost sight of the fact very bad, very vicious people deserve to be in jail,” Rollins fired back. She said she has always maintained that serious violent offenders need to be jailed — and she pointed out that under Bratton’s short reign, the Boston Police Department remained under a federal consent decree over diversity hiring and arrested Sean Ellis in the now discredited case that wound up exposing rampant corruption in the department.
On Sunday, Rollins weighed in on a range of issues on the WCVB-TV show “On The Record,” including the botched appointment as Boston police commissioner of Dennis White, who was named to the post with no vetting or even an interview. When asked previously about conflicting accounts of whether then-Mayor Marty Walsh knew about past allegations of domestic violence against White, Rollins suggested she gave more credence to the idea that Walsh did know — Walsh adamantly insists he did not. Yesterday, she played out the possibility that Walsh didn’t know — but in a way that amounted to a full-on broadside against the former mayor.
“This is a bad situation overall,” she said. “Because either he knew about it and he’s lying or he didn’t know about it and you’re a terrible manager.”Give Rollins points for chutzpah and for maintaining her trademark approach of direct answers to thorny questions.
Her summation is pretty close to what a lot of others have quietly whispered about Walsh’s handling of the situation. Not only did she not hold back while awaiting word on the US attorney pick, Rollins took a shot at a guy who was just appointed to a cabinet position by the president who she’s hoping will decide she’s the one to run the US attorney’s office in Massachusetts.