Tag Archives: Massachusetts Patronage Department


So here’s the question: does the position of Speaker of the Massachusetts House invite corruption or does it merely attract corrupt politicians?

SPEAKERSOr put another way: would former Speakers and convicted felons Charles Flaherty, Thomas Finneran and Salvatore DiMasi have put their careers and reputations on the line, risking prison and disbarment, had they not been inebriated on the hubris of Absolute Power that comes with the Speaker’s job?

As the saying goes: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!

And now, over the last few weeks, we have witnessed our current House Speaker, Robert DeLeo, appearing as a shadow figure, or unindicted co-conspirator, in the corruption trial of the cabal DeLeoformerly in charge of that criminal enterprise known as the Massachusetts Probation Department.

In addition to helping his godson become the youngest Acting Chief Probation Officer in the Commonwealth’s history, Speaker DeLeo was cited by prosecutors for allegedly using the promise of lucrative patronage jobs to help win the Speakership in a tight race with Norwood Rep. John Rogers. Not surprisingly, many of DeLeo’s colleagues and leadership team immediately stepped up to defend the Speaker and denounce federal prosecutors. Also no surprise, not a single legislator who voted for DeLeo as Speaker after receiving access to Probation Department jobs, saw those jobs as a quid pro quo for their vote. Without any question, they would have voted for DeLeo as Speaker in any case. The fact they’d been given Probation jobs for their friends, relatives and supporters played no role whatsoever.

I believe them. But then again I also believe in Santa Claus and an unbiased Supreme Court.

Of course, if there’s a legislator dumb enough to admit he or she sold his vote, according to Massachusetts custom they’d be impeached on the grounds of criminal stupidity rather than for any ethical lapse.

The fact that legislators are so quick and vocal in defending DeLeo merely provides further evidence of the power and privilege accrued to the House Speaker. Whether you have legislative goals or a leadership position (and salary) to protect, none of that will be possible without the blessing, support, or good opinion, of the Speaker. Those shouting loudest in DeLeo’s support can expect to receive their just rewards in the old familiar ways of Massachusetts politics. Perhaps no longer with jobs for unemployed relatives, but you can bet there’ll be something under the House Xmas tree with their name on the box.

Of course, those defending DeLeo the loudest are probably the same legislators who stood up in 2011 to give a rousing round of applause to visiting former Speakers, Flaherty, Finneran and DiMasi.

Apparently, in Massachusetts politics, nothing deserves a standing ovation like heaping shame upon your office.



To read more about former House Speaker Thomas Finneran’s role in the Probation Department scandal, go to “Can We Just Send Finneran The Bill? Please!”


To read satirical takes on the ‘Massachusetts Department of Patronage,’ see ‘Dear Whitey’ and ‘Mixing Jobs and Drinks at Joe’s Bar’





FROM THE SECRET FILES OF THE MASSACHUSETTS PATRONAGE DEPARTMENT, MPD, (Formerly known as the Massachusetts Probation Department)

February 14, 2010

FROM: John J. O’Brien, Commissioner

TO: James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger, Jr.

ADDRESS: Somewhere in Santa Monica, CA (for internal use only)

RE: Your application for employment


Dear Whitey:

How wonderful to receive your application for future employment in our agency, in the event you ever return to your home state. Here at the Patronage Department we receive numerous applications, but rarely from someone so highly qualified to deal with criminals, killers and thugs. O'Brien

However, as Commissioner of the Mass Patronage Department it often falls upon me to perform the most difficult and unpleasant tasks. Thus, with a heavy heart and my hands raised high in the air, I regret to inform you I must reject your application for employment at the MPD.

Please don’t take this as a personal rejection. Far from it! With two of your nephews already on the department’s payroll, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to bring another Bulger aboard. Your brother William has written to me with expressions bordering on outright bragging of your numerous talents and accomplishments—your entrepreneurial spirit, your gang leadership skills, your hair-trigger response to challenges, your managerial finesse in parceling out punishment. All skills we could easily put to good use at the MPD.

In fact, because of the many obstacles you face in returning to Massachusetts for a personal interview, I took the liberty of having a surrogate sit through your civil service exam. And I’m pleased to inform you your score was so exceptional you already outrank almost all other applicants.

But alas, I cannot offer you a job should you eventually return to Massachusetts. Ordinarily, someone like you with glowing recommendations from the F.B.I. and the Massachusetts Senate, not to mention multiple good conduct reports from the Mass Correctional System, would be a shoo-in for almost any position in the MPD. But I cannot step aside and allow you to take the Commissioner’s job, as you requested. Not even if you hold a gun to my head as you—no doubt jokingly—suggested.

And so, Whitey, I hope you won’t hold it against me that I cannot fulfill your request for suitable employment at the MPD. As for your idea of serving our department in some security capacity, I can only reply that MPD employees are not allowed to carry loaded firearms, especially in the Commonwealth’s courthouses. Another reason why I hold our prissy, pettifogging judges in such contempt.

Next thing you know they’ll be turning patronage into a crime!

And so, Whitey, I wish you great success in finding a new career path for when you ultimately return to your home state. A career path that would support any claims of personal redemption and improved moral character you might make to offset all those murder, robbery and extortion charges.

Your nephews send their love and wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!



John J. O’Brien

Commissioner and CDJ (Chief Dispenser of Jobs)

Massachusetts Patronage Department