By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Who dropped the dime?

I won’t say this Herald article about Deval Patrick’s brother-in-law’s being an unregistered sex offender isn’t a story. It is what it is. But by far the most interesting part is the question that isn’t answered. Dave Wedge writes:

The Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board sent [Bernard] Sigh [the brother-in-law] a letter this week alerting him that he is required to register. The letter informed him he has 10 days to comply or he will face criminal prosecution, according to Kelly Nantel, spokeswoman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety.

Nantel said the board recently learned of Sigh’s rape conviction and after reviewing his record, “determined he is required to register.”

“Recently learned,” huh? Rape is an incredibly serious crime, and if Sigh’s got to register, then he’s got to register. By the Herald’s account, though, it does seem that there are some nuances worth considering. Sigh was convicted 13 years ago of raping his wife; they later reconciled, and they’ve lived quietly in Milton since 1997. Or at least they were.

The real story here is who tipped off the Sex Offender Registry and then leaked it to the Herald. This is really sordid stuff.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Andrea Estes reports today that back when Patrick’s running mate, Tim Murray, was a low-paid public defender, he took cases. Some of those cases involved suspected sex offenders.

Is this what the election is really going to turn on? Incredible.

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  1. Rick in Duxbury

    As we have seen in Washington, people who see no other avenues to power engage in guerilla politics. I suspect that during the next 4 years in MA, LOTS of dimes will be dropped. Deval will probably get elected, but I’m not optimistic about him “bringing us together”.

  2. Citizen Charles Fostker Kane

    Let’s see….thirteen years ago…we’ve had at least thirteen years of Republican governors and they’ve allowed unregistered sex offenders to wander the streets all this time! Guess that proves exactly how “tough on crime” they are. That’s Mitt Romney and Kerry Healey: coddling sex offenders since day one. I, for one, am outraged. Who knows how many other sex offenders are out there, unregistered? Apparently the Healey people could only find one. I’m sure they’re hunting for the rest as we speak.

  3. Scott Allen Miller

    Hmm. Murray told Fox 25 that he’s still defending one of these sex offenders. I guess this isn’t old news after all.I’m about as outraged about politically timed dime dropping on Bernard Sigh as I am about the politically timed dime dropping on Mark Foley. If you disobey the law or cover up for someone else who did and your political enemies use that against you, so be it. You should have prevented it from becoming a political issue by doing the right thing in the first place.There are no “nuances” when it comes to Massachusetts law sex offender registration. If you have been convicted of rape, regardless of when or where, you must register unless a judge has specifically exempted you from registration. The board then classifies you and you can appeal your classification. It’s pretty straight forward. For Patrick’s spokesperson to say he was “unaware” of the law is either another outright lie (like the number of letters sent to/for LaGuer and whether he contributed to LaGuer’s defense fund) or it’s even more proof of how out of touch he is on the crime issue.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    “I’m about as outraged about politically timed dime dropping on Bernard Sigh as I am about the politically timed dime dropping on Mark Foley.”And what office is Bernard Sigh running for, Scott? As for Foley, all the dime-droppers seem to be his fellow Republicans … so much for political timing.

  5. Anonymous

    Remember Hillary Clinton’s vast right-wing conspiracy? I don’t suggest there is a vast consiracy of any kind here (although perhaps half-vast). However, it is disturbing to see all the local right-wing types playing the Karl Rove game without a shred of remorse or shame. Brian McGrory says it well in the Globe today but the latest polls will likely trump any effect his words might have had. All of this means that any Republican, even a moderate liberal on social issues, will get the full benefit of the right’s attack machine over any Democrat, even one as manifestly reasonable as Patrick. Healey had the opportunity to persuade a lot of Democrats who are susceptible to her substantive arguments, but she has clearly decided to follow the tone of her 2004 convention speech, so notorious for its mean-spiritedness and disingenuousness.

  6. mike_b1

    My three-year-old son Tommy is learning the legal system by hearing about all the Republican lawmakers (or is that “lawbreakers?”) who are indicted or going to jail (today’s lesson: Bob Ney!).Thank God for Republicans. They really do care about Tommy’s education!

  7. Anonymous

    Amidst all the other absurdities here, let us not overlook this one: We are talking about a candidate’s *brother-in-law.* I shudder to think what would happen if I ever ran for governor. My own flesh and blood brother has gotten himself into so many scrapes with the law over the years. Has he always complied with whatever the courts have ordered? I don’t know – I don’t speak to him.I am not my brother’s keeper, and certainly not my brother-in-law’s.EVERY family has its black sheep (sorry, Mike, it’s just an expression). Including, I’m sure, Kerry Healey.

  8. metallicaMobes

    “Karl Rovian Fear-Mongering Republican Playbook””fear and smear campaigns””negative character assassination ads”People on both sides of the isle need to grow a backbone. Seriously, this is how politics goes, if you haven’t noticed.If someone has something in their past (or their family’s past), it’s going to come out. Sure, it’s unfortunate, but hey- Laura Bush killed someone while drunk driving, remember? Ted Kennedy (do we really need a reminder of that?) maybe he should’ve taken diving lessons… John Kerry got “swiftboated” – politics will be politics, and while we certainly can spend lots of time decrying the whole process, our time is better spent ignoring them – because that’s the best way to eradicate the “fear and smear” effect.

  9. Anonymous

    I just think it’s sad that the Republican goose-steppers out there like Howie Carr believe crime is the most pressing problem this state faces. Ask all the people who have moved out in the last four years how much they feared crime more than, say, affording a house or keeping their job. Yeesh.

  10. Anonymous

    12:12 It’s all about the cover-up, isn’t it?(Again!) Presuming Mr. Patrick is admitted to practice in MA, (as a Milton resident and a law graduate of TWGU, reasonable premise), he now expects us to believe he had no idea that his in-law’s incarceration/reporting requirements would become news? We don’t get to choose our relatives. That said, if I ran for office, I would make sure that those relatives would withstand reasonable scrutiny from a nosy public.I would also provide a “heads-up” to them to prevent just such an occurrence as this.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 12:12: If I ever start a Stupid Comment of the Week award, make sure you enter. You might win a free subscription to Media Nation.We’re talking about Deval Patrick’s brother-in-law. You say that “if I ran for office, I would make sure that those relatives would withstand reasonable scrutiny from a nosy public.” So you wouldn’t run if your sister had married a jerk (or worse)? Please.

  12. Anonymous

    Dan,At least in my family, these issues get noticed at Thanksgiving.”Uncle Charlie is WHERE?” The fact that Deval has no culpability is less relevant than the fact that he got blindsided.(“Paging Ms. St. Fleur..”) Seeing things as they ought to be, rather than as they are, drives many of us crazy. In the world that ought to be, The Inside Track Gals would be out of work. Don’t hold your breath waiting for human nature to change. I may be “stupid” but I’m smart enough to not air my family’s dirty laundry unnecessarily. This wound was self-inflicted.12:12

  13. mike_b1

    Hold on there, Dan. Recall that George Bush got a DUI and his daughters were routinely arrested for underage drinking. Maybe Anon 12:12 is on to something!

  14. Anonymous

    the romney-fehrnstrom-healey-o’brien playbook is indeed a sordid and repellant thing. but the media’s eagerness to bathe in this political smut is instinctive and predictable, no different that a rhino’s desire to loll in a mud-wallow. Patrick’s crew is clumsy and inept — how could they not have inoculated against this brother in law rape thing sooner — planted a story about the couple’s reconciliation in a friendly venue (the globe, for example) before it got into the hands of Healey’s foreseeable scumsuckers. people will turn on healey and co. for this sad, shabby act. but it says a lot about patrick and his team that they have no skills at deflecting and defusing this onslaught. hope, schmope. to paraphrase that immortal line: how can we expect patrick to stand up to the Sal-Trav axis when he can’t even got 10 rounds with the wretched and empty kerry healey?

  15. metallicaMobes

    I once almost won a free subscription to Media Nation…But I was turned down on a technicality, consider yourself lucky, Anon, I’m pullin for ya.

  16. paul

    Patrick has come out with a response to the Herald story. It’s posted at Blue Mass. Group.

  17. another face at zanzibar

    Few politicians would be elected if the morals of a brother-in-law were the test.

  18. o-fish-l

    DanGlad to see that in your book only those seeking or holding political office are fair game, not their relatives. I’m looking forward to you denouncing the next story on Jenna Bush’s partying, Neil Bush’s bitter divorce, Sean Healey’s wealth, et al.As for “The real story here is who tipped off the Sex Offender Registry and then leaked it to the Herald. This is really sordid stuff.”I hope you are only curious about the tipster for the sole purpose of nominating him/her for “Citizen of the Year.” The sex offender registry is not optional. The sordid thing is that a noted criminal-law attorney running for Governor was so casual about a family members compliance. Kudos to the tipster for bringing this CONVICTED RAPIST to our attention and shame on Patrick for not ensuring that such a close relative (and neighbor), an obvious liability, was not abiding by Megan’s Law.

  19. Citizen Charles Foster Kane

    o-fish-l:(1) Sean Healey’s wealth is part of the story, because a large chunk of it is financing his wife’s campaign.(2) Deval Patrick needs to ensure that his brother-in-law abides by Megan’s Law? I thought that was the responsibility of the tough on crime Romney/Healey administration to check up on rape convictions and compliance with the law. Live and learn. I guess this means the Romney/Healey crime fighting strategy is to rely on private citizens to do the work while they cut the budget for enforcing Megan’s Law. Privitization works!

  20. Anonymous

    So Dan, Just so I understand this, if the fact that the brother-in-law of the presumptive governor is a sex offender is not a news story during the campaign, is it ever a news story? Is it something that should only be discussed in euphamisms and kept quiet? Don’t you think Massachusetts has had enough of institutions that attempt to hide sex offenders rather than divulging them and registering them?

  21. mike_b1

    Anon 7:40, I think we’ve covered this. If the Bush daughters’ underage drinking, George’s DUI and well-documented cocaine use, or Mitt’s 7 wifes back in Utah, etc. aren’t issues, then DP’s brother-in-law’s uncle’s cat’s or whatever the hell the relationship isn’t either.

  22. Tom Dooley

    >>>people will turn on healey and co. for this sad, shabby act.<<Umnmmm…..So far, there is no evidence that this originated at the Healy campain.It could simply be the result of ONE individual who is not too fond of Deval or his family.Second, there are no lies here. It’s all truth…and we should not be afraid of truth.Lastly, if some of the above commenters want to criticize this “tactic”…I would place the blame simply on the newspapers that chose to print it. Again, there is (so far) NO evidence that the appearance of this story originated within the Healy campain. Like I said, something like this only takes one person to engage in.

  23. Anonymous

    Dan Kennedy said “And what office is Bernard Sigh running for, Scott? As for Foley, all the dime-droppers seem to be his fellow Republicans … so much for political timing.”It doesn’t matter if someone is running for office or not. Shouldn’t all non-registered sex offenders be reported to the authorities. Are you suggesting that only sex offenders running for political office are required to register???? I doubt anyone is going to volunteer to have their name and address listed on the list and be available at sites like As for the “reconciliation” the rape must have been pretty serious for a conviction on the left coast. Concerned resident of Milton.j

  24. neil

    I couldn’t believe the Healey ad about Patrick getting a convicted murderer’s sentence reduced. Twenty+ years ago. Isn’t that a defense attorney’s job? At least he’s not sweeping the parks like his fellow cop-killer Terrill Walker. (As a non-cop by the way, the outrage over cop-killer has always bothered me. It’s not as bad to kill a regular citizen?) The Globe published a good letter today about the propriety of defending the unpopular. Some softy named John Adams.You don’t have to cycle far through the Nietzsche Family Circus to find something apropos:At times one remains faithful to a cause only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid.No matter what I think of Patrick’s positions, I sure can’t vote for Healey. Soft on crime? Are we in the midst of some state-wide crime wave I didn’t know about? Is this the eighties? And unregistered sex offenders–sheesh, where would we be without ’em, nothing to panic about! Aside from pushing the easy buttons of the talk-radio crowd (soft on crime! rapists! sex offenders!), does Healey have anything substantive to offer?

  25. mike_b1

    Is Milton still in Alabama? Just wondering…

  26. tblade

    As for Bernard Sigh registering, isn’t that Bernard Sigh’s, what would Healey call it…oh yeah, ‘personal responsibility’? Meaning non of Deval’s god-damn business? Should we all march down to our local precincts and report to the police every crime that our family members are in violation of? “Once, when I was 10, I remember my dad doing 80mph in a 55. Then there was that time my brother stole a whiffle ball. Oh, I think my mom claimed me as a dependent on her taxes after I moved out…” And I am sure Kerry Healey’s camp had nothing to do with it just like I am sure Dick Cheney didn’t know about the Plame leak.

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