Boehm Blasts Mass. AG Coakley in Honorary Degree Flap

Coakley photoHillary Chabot reports in the Boston Herald today:

Attorney General Martha Coakley donned a cap and gown to receive an honorary law degree from Suffolk University as her office actively probed a school trustee for conflict of interest – and maintains she did not have to get ethics clearance first.

But Ken Boehm of the ethics watchdog agency National Legal and Policy Center blasted Coakley over the Suffolk honor: “By any ethical yardstick, that’s way over the line and it shouldn’t have happened. Anything of value received from someone under investigation is wholly inappropriate.”

The Herald story continues:

Coakley, widely viewed as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate and a strong backer of ethics reform, was awarded the honorary degree May 7, telling graduates, “If your reputation for integrity is impaired, set that diploma on fire.”

Suffolk spokesman Greg Gatlin said in a statement:

Attorney General Martha Coakley is the first female attorney general in the commonwealth’s history and has distinguished herself in the field of law and public service,” and called her a “role model for our law students.” The Suffolk statement did not address the conflict of interest issue.

Funny, I did not know that being female provided an exemption from ethics requirements.

You would think that a local controversy like this would stir the juices of self-proclaimed ethics watchdogs in the state. Not if they are liberal interest groups in drag. According to the Herald:

Pam Wilmot of the ethical watchdog group Common Cause defended Coakley, saying, “It’s preposterous to conclude that the attorney general would throw an investigation for an honorary degree.”

photo: AP/Wide World