Corruption or advocacy?

When two aides to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh were convicted earlier this month on federal charges of conspiring to extort organizers of the Boston Calling music festival in 2014, US Attorney Andrew Lelling touted it as another victory for efforts to root out corruption in government.

But a lot of people don’t see it that way. The case has generated a tremendous amount of blowback from advocates, labor leaders, legal experts, and, last week, most members of the Boston City Council, who say the US attorney’s office has criminalized the usual give-and-take of political advocacy. 

“We’re in a different world where advocacy is now considered extortion,” said Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards on this week’s Codcast. She called it a “true concern” and said the convictions have created incredible uncertainty for elected officials and advocates who are accustomed to pushing their causes vigorously, but now wonder whether that could land them in prosecutors’ crosshairs.