NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

May 23, 2013

We deserve better from our elected officials

It’s not a huge surprise that our lieutenant governor has decided to quit his post and take a much lower-profile job in the private sector. Perhaps the only surprise is why it took him this long to acknowledge that he had lost the public’s confidence in him.

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray was something of a rising star when Gov. Deval Patrick picked him as his running mate six years ago. Murray was the young mayor of Worcester at the time, our state’s second largest city, and seemed well poised to map out his political future.

We don’t expect a lot from lieutenant governors. If they are smart, they can build up goodwill with the public, form a political base to advance their career, and still stay under the radar. That was Murray’s problem — he couldn’t do any of those things right.

First, there was the mysterious high-speed pre-dawn car accident in late 2011 that utterly destroyed his state-provided car. Murray’s story for why he was on the road at that time — and for driving 108 mph — changed as more evidence emerged, which only generated suspicion. That alone was not enough to really damage him, it just raised eyebrows.

Then came the bombshell. Murray had exchanged dozens of phone calls with Chelsea Housing Authority Director Michael McLaughlin, and had been the recipient of donations that McLaughlin had raised for him, allegedly from housing authority employees. The state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance found that the fundraising was not done in compliance with state law, and asked the Attorney General’s office to investigate.

There was hardly a worse solon for Murray to find himself coiled around. McLaughlin had a long and sullied past in politics, and was most recently under investigation for falsifying records to hide is vastly fattened $360,000 salary, making him one of the highest paid housing authority directors in the nation... in one of the smaller cities. Murray denied he did anything wrong.

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