NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

September 18, 2013

Ethics decision changes tone of Tierney race

The word that the U.S. House Ethics Committee has essentially shut down its investigation into the actions or inactions of Congressman John Tierney regarding his wife’s tax handling of cash from her brothers’ off-shore gaming ventures may draw all sorts of reactions from officials and voters alike.

Some, of course, may always believe that, as brother-in-law Daniel Eremian loudly asserted last year, that Tierney “knew everything” about what proved to be the Eremians’ scheme. Others no doubt welcome the Ethics Committee news as one more affirmation of Tierney’s position, noting also that Judge William Young, questioning prosecutors at Patrice Tierney’s January 2011 sentencing, indicated that the congressman “... is not implicated in this in any way, shape or form...”

But all should be grateful that, in recognizing there was no evidence of wrongdoing, the bipartisan U.S. House Ethics Committee also set the stage for what should be a far more effective and positive election campaign next year than we all saw in 2012.

While there are no assurance challengers still won’t raise personal and credibility concerns, the panel’s statement that evidence “does not warrant a finding that Representative Tierney intentionally mischaracterized the nature of the payments for financial disclosure or tax purposes” should finally take the Patrice case off the campaign table.

That’s not only good for Tierney and his staunch supporters, but for 6th District voters who should be able to hear the congressman and his challengers debate important federal policy issues, not merely clash over what Tierney might have known and when about his wife’s family’s gaming enterprises.

With two Democratic challengers already in the 2014 6th District race, and Republican candidates no doubt to follow, all should learn from the results of the down-and-dirty personal attacks carried out by GOP challenger Richard Tisei and his national PAC supporters — who seemingly had victory in reach, but whose verbal and mailbox bombardments of false charges and half-truths so turned off voters that Tierney rallied to win his ninth term.

Let the Ethics Committee’s findings indeed prove the last word to any Tierney gaming questions. And let any campaign debate on real issues begin.

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