The Columbus Dispatch

Mass. US attorney resigns in wake of ethics probes

Comes days after inspector general reports of alleged misconduct

- Alanna Durkin Richer and Eric Tucker

WASHINGTON – Massachuse­tts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins formally resigned Friday after wide-ranging investigat­ions by two federal watchdog agencies found she sought to use her position to influence a local election and lied to investigat­ors.

In a letter to President Joe Biden obtained by The Associated Press, Rollins thanked the White House for supporting her during her contentiou­s nomination process and said she wishes the administra­tion “the best of luck in the months and years ahead.”

Her resignatio­n comes two days after the release of scathing reports from the Justice Department’s inspector general and another watchdog outlined a litany of alleged misconduct by the top federal law enforcemen­t officer in Massachuse­tts.

The AP first reported Tuesday that Rollins would be stepping down from the prestigiou­s federal post that has occasional­ly served as a springboar­d to higher office. Her lawyer, Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general, said she “understand­s that her presence has become a distractio­n.”

The AP revealed in November that the Justice Department’s inspector general had opened an ethics investigat­ion into Rollins after she was photograph­ed last July at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser featuring first lady Jill Biden. The probe quickly expanded to explore other issues, including her use of her personal cellphone for Justice Department business.

It’s a stunning downfall for Rollins, who was praised by powerful Democrats and seen as a rising progressiv­e star when she was nominated for the post in 2021. She served as U.S. attorney for just 16 months and was under federal investigat­ion for almost a year.

Less than two hours before her resignatio­n, a judge ordered a Massachuse­tts Air National Guard member to remain behind bars while he awaits trial in one of the most high-profile cases the Massachuse­tts U.S. attorney’s office has brought in years. Jack Teixeira is charged with leaking highly classified military documents.

Among those who attended Teixeira’s court hearing Friday was Rollins’ former deputy Josh Levy, who will now lead the office as acting U.S. attorney.

Rollins was the first woman of color to be elected a district attorney in Massachuse­tts and the first Black woman to serve as the state’s U.S. attorney. She was elected district attorney for Suffolk County, which includes Boston, in 2018 on a promise to decline prosecutio­n for certain lowlevel crimes, drawing the ire of police and business groups.

She was vigorously supported by Massachuse­tts’ U.S. senators and twice needed Vice President Kamala Harris to break a tie in the Senate to win confirmati­on as U.S. attorney amid stiff opposition from Republican­s, who slammed her progressiv­e policies as district attorney as radical and dangerous.

The allegation­s against Rollins are particular­ly striking because Attorney General Merrick Garland has said that one of his top priorities was to ensure prosecutor­s would be politicall­y independen­t. After Rollins’ attendance at the fundraiser became public, Garland barred political appointees from attending fundraiser­s and other campaign events at all.

The most stunning allegation in the inspector general’s report – and another by the Office of Special Counsel – was that Rollins leaked informatio­n to the media last year in the hopes of sabotaging the campaign of her successor as Suffolk County district attorney, Kevin Hayden.

 ?? ?? Rollins

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States