|Look out below|
To hear Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray tell it, former Chelsea housing chief Michael E. McLaughlin was just a campaign volunteer. Though phone records show that the two men called each other 193 times over the past two years - including one call on a Sunday at 1:30 a.m. - Murray aides insist that McLaughlin played no special role.
But a Globe investigation shows that the former Chelsea housing chief ran an extensive political operation for the lieutenant governor right up until McLaughlin resigned in November amid an uproar over his $360,000 salary. The FBI is investigating whether McLaughlin broke federal laws, questioning housing authority employees about McLaughlin’s political activities and management of the agency.
More than two dozen politicians, housing authority employees, and Murray campaign workers say that McLaughlin was a key fund-raiser and organizer for the lieutenant governor even though, as a federally funded employee, McLaughlin was barred from most political activity, especially at work.
Housing authority employees portray a workplace that McLaughlin had turned into a political machine, inappropriately pressuring workers to give time or money to Murray’s campaign and others’.So in other words it is Jack O'Brien part deux, FBI investigation and all.
And about that November crash?
While publicly downplaying his ties to McLaughlin, Murray has told confidants that the scandal over McLaughlin’s extraordinary pay kept him awake the night before his mysterious high-speed crash on Nov. 2. Murray had talked to McLaughlin several times while the Globe was preparing an article about McLaughlin’s salary, phone records show, but Murray said he didn’t know the salary amount until the story was published on Oct. 30. The report triggered multiple investigations.
Murray “felt betrayed. He felt played’’ by McLaughlin, explained one person close to the lieutenant governor. Restless, Murray went out for an early-morning drive to clear his head.Here's what I wrote on Jan 5:
The drive ended abruptly at 5:26 a.m. when his state-owned Crown Victoria slammed into a rock ledge along Interstate 190 at a speed in excess of 90 miles per hour, rolling over twice and triggering the political crisis of his career. Murray’s shifting accounts of how he came to be driving so early in the morning and why he crashed have raised so many questions that he recently hired Ferson, a crisis communications specialist, to handle the fall-out.
Everyone has a theory. Here's mine - worth what you pay for it:
The LG says he left his house for a pre-dawn drive because he couldn't sleep and wanted to pick up a newspaper and some coffee. I think that's probably true, so far as it goes. Except Murray told reporters he was out in search of a Herald. I think he was actually looking for a Globe (Fox reports that in fact a Globe - not a Herald - was found in the wreckage, though there's no word on the date of publication).
The accident happened on November 2. Just three days earlier, on October 30, the Globe ran its first story about the Chelsea Housing Authority and Murray's phone pal Michael McLaughlin. Although Murray's close relationship with McLaughlin didn't hit the papers until November 18, by the 2nd Murray probably knew reporters were on to the relationship, were seeking his cell phone records, etc. In all likelihood by that point the Globe's and Herald's investigative reporters were pinging Murray and his staff on a regular basis, so Murray would have known there was much more to come. He would not have known when the next shoe was going to drop, or when his name would be tossed into the mix.
Hence the inability to sleep. Hence the impulse rise early and head out in search of the morning headlines. Hence the general fatigue that might well have caused the Lt. Governor to drift off to sleep and drift off the road.Before you go congratulating me, though, note that in the same post I also wrote, "Personally I think those who are predicting that this episode will kill off Murray's chances to succeed his boss in the corner office are kidding themselves..."
I think I might be wrong about that.
Meanwhile, about that Jack O'Brien thing? The Beacon Hill rumor mill is still in overdrive about a raft of pending indictments in that mess.
Going to be another tough month for the Massachusetts Democratic machine. Forget snow - there's a shoe storm comin'.
|Storm's a' comin'|