Those who maintain that getting a job with the state is not a matter of what you know, but who, could not have been surprised by the indictments handed down Monday against the former probation commissioner and a former high-ranking staffer in the treasurer's office.
John O'Brien, who was relieved of his duties as probation commissioner last year in the wake of allegations of "pervasive fraud" within his department, is in this instance accused of arranging a job for his wife in 2005 in exchange for organizing a fundraiser for then-Treasurer Timothy Cahill. The deal was sealed, according to prosecutors, in conversations between O'Brien and Scott Campbell, then Cahill's chief of staff, who went on to manage his 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
Both men have denied the charges, which Attorney General Martha Coakley described as only the first result of what is a comprehensive probe into the Probation Department's and other state agencies' hiring practices.
Coming on the heels of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi's conviction for influence-peddling, these latest charges will only bolster the public's cynicism of the way their money is spent. Providing comfortable employment for a favored few is not what most of us want done with the money that's taken from our paychecks every week.
A bill signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick last month creates tough new hiring standards for those applying for employment with the courts and Probation Department, which, like the MBTA and Turnpike Authority, have long been viewed as a haven for friends and family of influential legislators. Unfortunately, the damage done by DiMasi, O'Brien and their ilk will take much time and more than a single piece of legislation to repair.