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

Tierney troubles may give jolt to Hudak

Incredible political news from the North Shore tonight. Patrice Tierney, the wife of U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Salem, will plead guilty to federal tax charges in U.S. District Court tomorrow. According to the Boston Globe, the charges involve her management of $7 million in illicit gambling profits earned by her brother, Robert Eremian.

Could this give a life to the longshot campaign of extremist Republican candidate William Hudak, a Boxford lawyer who has flirted with the birther movement?

Via Garrett Quinn.

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  1. Nial Lynch

    Of course spousal association is not relevant here. Tierney’s wife never even dabbled in … Alaskan Independence Party.

  2. BP Myers

    @Nial: Think it was the lies told about his association with the AIP that were the problem, not necessarily his involvement (though that was revealing).

    At any rate, if she gets a sweetheart deal for aiding and abetting the non-payment of taxes on illicit income — and it appears now as if she is going to — I’d vote for Hudak in a heartbeat. I suspect I’m not alone.

    Congressman Bill Hudak. Get used to it.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @BP: The question is whether the spouse’s conduct is tied up with the candidate’s in any way. The media are looking into that with the Tierneys right now, and appropriately so. But you can bet that the feds would have loved to bag a congressman, and they didn’t. So that gives us a baseline from which to start.

      Likewise, you may recall that Sarah Palin was so enmeshed with the America-hating Alaskan Independence Party that two longtime party officials told Jake Tapper of ABC News that she was a member. He later had to retract that. But she was involved with the party, sending cheery messages to its annual conventions even as the First Dude maintained his membership.

  3. Bill Hanna

    Sadly, this is the type of thing that pushes otherwise reasonable people into supporting oddballs and extremists like Hudak and O’Donnell. This could not have come at a worse time for Tierney’s reelection campaign because it’s very difficult to believe that John Tierney wasn’t aware of his wife’s transgressions. To paraphrase a former president who spoke from first-hand experience, the worst wounds are often self-inflicted.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Bill: Why do you suppose the feds didn’t charge him? If it was political, wouldn’t they have given her a pass, too? Let’s wait and see.

  4. Mike Benedict

    @BP: In admitting you would vote for Hudak, you offer up an interesting form of logic, which is, let’s ignore a candidate’s past record of questionable (at best) judgment and mistruths so as not to support the spouse of a lawbreaker.

    If I felt Tierney (or whomever) had violated the law and thus was undeserving of my vote, and the other candidate was so extreme it’s a wonder he doesn’t go shooting off into space, I think I would pick “None of the Above.”

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Mike: Hear, hear. This may sound strange, but I don’t think integrity is the most important quality you should look for in a politician. I think compatibility on issues ranks much higher. (And integrity in a politician’s spouse is even less important.)

  5. Bob Gardner

    @ Dan, “The media are looking into that with the Tierneys right now, and appropriately so.”

    It would have been appropriate for the media “to look into it” when the connection between Congressman Tierney and this guy was first known. If not then, certainly in August, when Eremian was charged.

    ” Why do you suppose the feds didn’t charge him?” Probably for the same or similar reasons that Jeff Perry hasn’t been charged.

    I wouldn’t vote for Perry or for Hudak. But I have a hard time arguing with someone who points out the obvious double standard between the attention given to the crime of Perry’s former subordinate, and the much more recent moneylaundering going on in Congressman Tierney’s home.

  6. Steve Stein

    Dan, I think that view (compatibility over integrity) represents a different “interesting form of logic”. Unfortunately, what good are compatible views if the Rep will sell out their principles?

    (One of my first political heros was Harrison Williams. That did not end well.)

    But if Tierney himself is clean (and it appears he is – he would have been a much bigger fish to net), I don’t care much about what the wife did.

    One strange benefit to this is it raises Hudak’s profile. Now people will be asking Baker and other Republicans more about their support for him. And those answers will be embarrassing. Hudak is the gift that keeps on giving.

  7. BP Myers

    @Dan: Agreed and agreed. However, I don’t see anyone getting away with merely probation for aiding and abetting the non-payment of taxes on seven million dollars in illicit gains.

    If she gets away with merely probation, the only conclusion can be that it is only because she is the wife of a congressman.

    And regardless of party, if I was in that district, I would register a protest vote for the other party.

    I’m petty like that.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @BP: You may be missing something. Not only have I not seen any reports that taxes weren’t paid, but I’ve seen a least one report specifically stating that there was no non-payment of taxes. Have you seen otherwise?

  8. Bill Hanna

    @BP Myers: The problem with casting a “protest vote” is that, in the end, somebody has to govern. I could not vote for Hudak under any circumstances because, to me, some of his prior statements and actions qualify him as a kook. Likewise O’Donnell and a few of the others who have emerged during this election cycle. These people are the low hanging fruit of the protest tree. Come next January, somebody will have to represent Tierney’s district. On the basis of what I know now, I wouldn’t vote for Hudak, would be reluctant to take a pass on voting, and would feel that the incumbent is best suited to represent me for the next two years.

  9. Mike Benedict

    @BP: “If she gets away with merely probation, the only conclusion can be that it is only because she is the wife of a congressman.”

    I disagree, and the evidence supports my side. Case after case shows that where graft is concerned, the feds love to take down high flyers. Consider: Duke Cunningham, Luis Gutierrez, Jesse Jackson Jr., James McGovern, Bob Taft, Mel Reynolds, Rod Blagojevich, William Jefferson, George Ryan, Ted Stevens, Bill Clinton (!), Richard Nixon (!!).

    Need I continue?

    Given all the above, the notion that somehow Tierney (Mr. or Mrs.) is getting a pass strains credulity.

  10. Al Fiantaca

    @BP: I understand your frustration, and your desire to send a message regarding preferential treatment of Mrs Tierney because she is the wife of a Congressman. However, when the alternative available is someone who is wholly inappropriate as a candidate, and would be equally inappropriate as an elected official, then that choice cannot be made. The best I can support is sadly, a no vote for the office, or write in for someone you admire who you feel would be a quality vote.

  11. I will be voting for Tierney again next month. This transgression by his wife does not negate his years of effective public service. After supporting him for years, I had the opportunity to observe and question him in person a few weeks ago, and I was highly impressed with his mastery of arcane details and the minutia of public policy.

    I asked him whether he was ready to play “defense” in the event the GOP wins congress & Darrell Issa starts many fake scandal investigations, according to the 90s playbook (Vince Foster-gate, “Travelgate” “Whitewater”, etc.). He told me that when he arrived in Congress, Rep. Henry Waxman told him that he had been observing Tierney’s career as a prosecutor and that the newbie was going to be on his committee of govt investigations, instead of his original second choice. I suspect we will need him more than ever in the face of Republican smokescreen blather.

  12. C.E. Stead

    DK – I have two questions.

    1 – Did Mr. and Mrs. Tierney file a joint return?

    2. – Has he invoked what the IRS calls ‘innocent spouse’ status?

    And I would observe that failure to indict at this time has more to do with available evidence than lack of complicity by the congressman.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @C.E.: Two answers.

      1. No idea. Elementary question the feds would have asked.

      2. See my answer to the first question.

      Let’s use some logic, OK? Given that the feds bagged a congressman’s wife, it’s clear that they would have loved it even more if they could have bagged a congressman. They didn’t. If Tierney were getting a pass because he’s a Democratic elected official, the feds would not have come down on his wife four weeks before the election.

  13. H. Wiberg

    Did you see the “debate” on Fox 25 tonight at 10 pm? You can see it on Fox 25’s website. They are keeping al these mini-debates up for a while.
    Two observations:
    1) Tierney’s defense of “We have a 21st century marriage” is a bit thin. Crafted by his attorney, no doubt. If MY wife were handling $7 million from overseas bank accounts AND I was a public figure, I’d d%*n sure know where it was coming from. I suppose Hotpants Barney Frank didn’t know he was dating a prostitute, either.
    From Casablanca: Captain Renault: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”…
    2) Tierney was clearly afraid to let Hudak get a word in edgewise. Due to Hudak’s (and the talking head’s) inexperience, I think Tierney succeeded. Tierney looked like a preppy, masterdebator bully.

  14. Mike Benedict

    C.E. Stead: “And I would observe that failure to indict at this time has more to do with available evidence than lack of complicity by the congressman.”

    What a audacious comment that was. Need you be reminded that the entire US legal system is founded on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty?” Or perhaps you agree your wife should be fined because you may have illegally downloaded an .mp3 file or two in your life?

    The feds, by all accounts, have been investigating this for years. To tar Mr. Tierney with that brush based on what we now know is totally inconsistent with the facts. Not to mention borderline libelous.

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