Several Boston City Councilors are speaking out against the conviction of Boston’s head of tourism Ken Brissette for extortion and conspiracy, and Boston’s head of intergovernmental affairs Tim Sullivan for conspiracy in the 2014 Boston Calling music festival.

The two have been declared guilty of pressuring festival organizers to hire union workers by threatening the festival could lose city permits. According to the Boston Globe, prosecutors said Brissette and Sullivan were trying to preserve Mayor Walsh’s political image as a labor-friendly mayor.

City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who represents District One (North End, Charlestown and East Boston), organized a demonstration on Wednesday, calling the prosecutions a “terrible precedent” for future advocacy by government officials and community activists.

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Read the Boston City Councilors’ statement on this decision below, from the Office of Councilor Edwards.

In the wake of the recent Boston Calling verdict, we are compelled to speak out about our role as City Councilors and our enduring commitment to fight for social inclusion and economic dignity.

The decision of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts to push this case was a grievous misuse of limited prosecutorial resources in service of a misguided political agenda. This case sets a terrible precedent where government officials who personally received nothing of value can nonetheless face criminal penalties for advocacy that federal prosecutors deem too aggressive. Attempts to criminalize advocacy can only serve to advance the interests of those seeking a society that is less equal and less fair.

Voters sent us to public office to take on issues such as housing affordability, good jobs, environmental protection, civil rights and public safety. As public officials, it is our job to speak up daily for the constituencies we represent. Our duty to do so is even greater when public land or public resources are at stake. As residents call for action on the issues that affect their quality of life and well-being, we will continue to use our voices to address these concerns.

It is fundamental that city business should be transparent, accessible, and fairly administered according to the laws that hold public officials accountable. As Councilors, we also have an obligation to shape the laws. We will redouble our efforts by advancing clear and compelling standards for how we expect business to be conducted in the City of Boston and by writing and debating legislation to attack inequality and protect the public good. Every public employee should feel empowered by these laws to advocate for all people to have a place in our city and full opportunities to thrive.

Councilor Lydia Edwards
Councilor Frank Baker

Councilor Andrea Campbell
Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George
Councilor Michael Flaherty
Councilor Ed Flynn

Councilor Kim Janey
Councilor Timothy McCarthy
Councilor Michelle Wu

Councilor Josh Zakim

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah, I get it. Extortion by politicians has always been an acceptable practice here. It’s the rest of the country that’s screwed up.

  2. She has lost my vote…this is one of the most outrageous things I’ve ever read. The judicial system has spoken. If she odesn’t like the outcome, work to make extortion legal.

    Does she really think the people from Boston Calling have an agenda? Really?

  3. They want to get these convictions reversed so there won’t be any possible plea deals made where these two hacks cut a deal cooperate and flip on Marty.

  4. I am so embarrassed to have these people represent us. My entire office of working, tax paying, voting citizens have just all agreed this city is in the wrong hands and heading in a scary direction. The Council should be pressuring Mahty to do something about the camps of homeless threatening all of us and the tourists instead of supporting his unethical practices to insure himself votes.
    Disgusting!

  5. Marty , is too focussed on finding a site to provide addicts/junkies a designated area where they can shoot up in privacy. I suggest City Hall next to Marty’s office

  6. It troubles me that my City Councilor, who is also a lawyer (Edwards), does not seem to understand the difference between extortion and advocacy. The line between these two acts is clear and bright, no matter how much she and other councilors try to confuse and obfuscate the
    issue. She won’t get my vote again.

    • Regardless, looks like the whole City Council is involved. Patronage and kickback schemes seem to woven into the Boston political establishment.

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