CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION
and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

CLT UPDATE
Thursday, April 22, 2004

A "well disguised blessing" ahead for Mini-Winny?


A federal grand jury probe is swirling around Speaker Thomas M. Finneran and other House lawmakers after the state's 2001 redistricting plan was thrown out by a judge for illegally penalizing black voters in Boston.

A source close to the investigation said the probe is focusing on a possible perjury charge against Finneran for his sworn statements during the trial in which the House plan was overturned.

Finneran's office said Boston attorney Thomas M. Hoopes has been retained to comply with a grand jury subpoena of documents.

The Boston Herald
Friday, April 16, 2004
Probers fishing for fibbing by Finneran


"We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields, and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!"

-- Winston Churchill


You're Tom Finneran, the speaker of the House, and this is how your life spins out of control.

The Boston Herald
Friday, April 16, 2004
Tommy finds the truth taxing
By Howie Carr


"I felt as if ... all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour."

-- Winston Churchill


Finneran said yesterday he would not comment on the investigation. The Redistricting Committee announced it has hired a veteran Boston criminal lawyer, Thomas M. Hoopes, to handle the grand jury's request for its records.

"I am in the process of responding to that request," Hoopes said. "The committee will cooperate fully with the request. There will be no further comment of any kind with regard to this matter." ...

The judges noted that Finneran had chosen the committee and its chairman and had ensured that the panel hire his boyhood friend, Boston lawyer Lawrence DiCara, a redistricting specialist, as its "principal functionary." ...

The decision to hire Hoopes will add a hefty bill to the nearly $3 million it has cost taxpayers to draw and defend in court the House redistricting plan, completed in 2001. Nearly $600,000 went to DiCara's firm, Nixon Peabody, for the work that he performed.

The Boston Globe
Friday, April 16, 2004
Finneran actions focus of US subpoena


"I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place."

"I plead, I pray, that time and tolerance will not be denied."

-- Winston Churchill


Prominent Bay State Democrats cast doubt yesterday on House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran's claim not to be involved in a state redistricting plan, saying he was a chief author of a congressional map just a few months before.

The Boston Herald
Saturday, April 17, 2004
Dems doubt Finneran's testimony


"... But I must say that the statesmen whom I saw in those days seemed to tower above the general level in a most impressive way. The tests were keener, the standards were higher, and those who surmounted them were men it was a treat and honour to meet."

-- Winston Churchill


A federal investigation into whether House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran lied under oath when he testified about a redistricting plan later rejected by a panel of judges is unusual, according to legal specialists and a review of court statistics, because perjury charges are seldom brought as a result of testimony in a civil case.

But Finneran's powerful position, the fact that federally protected voting rights are at stake, and the decision by a panel of judges to describe his testimony as not credible could increase the chances that the US attorney's office would prosecute him for testimony given in a federal trial about the Legislature's 2001 redistricting plan....

Another factor that could fuel the investigation into Finneran's testimony is the fact that the three judges made a point of registering their skepticism. Indeed, Common Cause executive director Pamela Wilmot speculated that it was the judges themselves who initiated the investigation by US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, not the watchdog group.

The Boston Globe
Saturday, April 17, 2004
In Finneran case, an unusual course


"Truth is so precious that she must often be attended by a Bodyguard of Lies."

-- Winston Churchill


Federal prosecutors have their work cut out proving House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran perjured himself in a trial that overturned the 2001 legislative redistricting plan, according to legal specialists....

While the probe is garnering headlines and buzz in the political world, the burden of proof is formidable, legal scholars say.

The Boston Herald
Monday, April 19, 2004
Doubting Thomas: Finneran perjury a real tough sell


"Although we have not yet invented the unsinkable ship, we have discovered the unsinkable politician."

-- Winston Churchill


Get that man a white umbrella and chinchilla neck-wrap - Tom Finneran is the next Martha Stewart....

Like Martha, Finneran is a public figure many love to hate. He shamelessly runs an elected body like it is some secret society, thinks he is smarter than just about everybody else and personifies the arrogance of power. Besides that, he's not a bad guy.

Unless the U.S. attorney knows something we don't, it looks like the speaker - correction: the "powerful" speaker - is about to be at the center of another big-game hunt masquerading as a federal grand jury.

The Boston Herald
Monday, April 19, 2004
Mr. Speaker, maybe Martha has room for 2
By Joe Sciacca


"The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is."

"Great peoples in the enjoyment of free institutions are always groping for the truth."

-- Winston Churchill


Finneran's allies in the House say the powerful Mattapan Democrat is as engaged and attentive as ever, even as he confronts a federal grand jury probe into whether he lied in a federal trial about redistricting.

But interviews with other State House Democrats, including a half-dozen House members, suggest the normally intense and sharp speaker has appeared more distant and distracted in recent months. They describe interactions with him when Finneran seemed unfocused in responding to questions and lacking in concentration on important issues.

In the heat of last month's legislative debate over gay marriage, a Democratic lawmaker approached the speaker and was surprised by his demeanor as Finneran seemed to fumble for words.

The disjointed conversation, it turns out, took place the day after Finneran learned that federal prosecutors had delivered a subpoena asking for documents that would contradict Finneran's assertions that he was not involved in House deliberations over redistricting in 2001.

The Boston Globe
Monday, April 19, 2004
Finneran's focus doubted amid redistricting probe


The prize is so great that other things should be subordinated to gaining it. The bulk of the people are slow to take in what is happening and prejudices die hard."

-- Winston Churchill


Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few," acknowledged Winston Churchill at the peak of the Battle of Britain. Today, that sentiment can be applied to Common Cause for its pursuit of a perjury investigation of House Speaker Tom Finneran, leading him into his own "darkest hour."

Barbara recognized Finneran's egotistical identification with Winston Churchill early in his reign. Later, in her February 2001 column, "More King George III than Winston Churchill," she wrote:

Still, the Speaker refers to Sir Winston with a familiarity that implies more than just academic study of his illustrious career. A year or so ago, when Finneran was hosting the David Brudnoy show on WBZ, he chose as his guest a man who is a noted expert on the British leader. As I listened, I got the clear impression that the Speaker not only admired Churchill, but identified with him.

I can see it, from his point of view. Winston Churchill was a man who stood alone and took control, when lesser men tried to bring him down or to get in the way as he saved the world.

Tom Finneran stands alone, in control of lesser men; I'll give him that.

Her observation was reinforced in a Boston Globe report on Jan. 26, 2001, "Finneran still stoking his passion for battle" by Tina Cassidy:

One day after loyal House members voted to remove his eight-year term limit, thereby raising the prospect of continuing his iron-fisted control well into the new millennium, a buoyant Speaker Thomas M. Finneran compared his own strong will to Winston Churchill's.

It became more widely recognized by Apr. 26, when David R. Guarino of the Boston Herald, quoting Speaker Finneran, reported ("It's a classic sleight of hand: Finneran fans, foes say cuts are typical trick"):

"I don't pretend that this is an inspirational campaign. This is not Winston Churchill trying to rally the forces during the dark hour," he said. "All this is, is information and the information is very clear."

Finneran, with House Ways and Means Chairman John Rogers by his side, said the budget exercise is simple: These drastic cuts are the only way to make it work without new money.

Finneran really went over the top, clearly losing touch, in an Associated Press report of May 4, 2002, "Finneran revels in tax hike battle," which reported:

Winston Churchill had the Battle of Britain. Tom Finneran has the fiscal crisis of 2002.

Minutes after the Massachusetts House overwhelming approved a billion-dollar tax package designed to blunt the rough edges of a plummeting economy, Finneran, who lobbied hard for the package, basked in the victory....

"The feeling that I have is an awful lot of pride," he told reporters in his office after the lopsided vote. "Nobody else could have done it."

When the lawsuit against the House's redistricting plan went to court, Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr was there. In his column of Nov. 15, 2003,  "Redistricting testimony tars Tommy Taxes," he wrote:

When I arrived, I sat down beside Tommy Taxes as he perused a small tome, the Penguin Lives biography of Winston Churchill by John Keegan. He seemed nervous as he read the book. Perhaps he understood that he was ... at risk.

"Throughout his life Churchill compared his career positions to that of Napoleon," the Winston Churchill Centre reports. And Tom Finneran compares his to that of Winston Churchill.

When Churchill's Conservative Party was surprisingly defeated in Britain's first post-war election in 1945, though reelected himself he stepped down as prime minister.  His wife, Clementine, assured him that this could be a blessing in disguise. "Winny" replied: "If that is the case, it certainly is well disguised."

Stay tuned to see if such a well disguised blessing is ahead for Mini-Winny.

Chip Ford

The above Churchill quotes were found and are available at The Churchill Centre.


The Boston Herald
Friday, April 16, 2004

Probers fishing for fibbing by Finneran
By Steve Marantz


A federal grand jury probe is swirling around Speaker Thomas M. Finneran and other House lawmakers after the state's 2001 redistricting plan was thrown out by a judge for illegally penalizing black voters in Boston.

A source close to the investigation said the probe is focusing on a possible perjury charge against Finneran for his sworn statements during the trial in which the House plan was overturned.

Finneran's office said Boston attorney Thomas M. Hoopes has been retained to comply with a grand jury subpoena of documents.

In a written statement, Hoopes said he represents "the Massachusetts Legislative Redistricting Committee with respect to the receipt of a request for documents.

"I am in the process of responding to that request," Hoopes' statement reads.

Finneran is under scrutiny for testifying he never saw the House plan and that he did not know of changes in his own Mattapan-Milton district until the plan was made public, a source confirmed.

The three-member federal panel that overturned the House plan wrote "circumstantial evidence strongly suggests" Finneran was involved in creating it.

House lawmakers ignored "racial fairness" in drawing up new House districts in order to protect incumbents, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found.

Among those districts were areas represented by Finneran, House Majority Leader Salvatore DiMasi and other House leaders.

Common Cause of Massachusetts had asked U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan to investigate Finneran after the Feb. 24 ruling.

"The bottom line for us is that the U.S. attorney conduct a serious and thorough investigation and we find out what the speaker really knew," said Pam Wilmot, Common Cause executive director.

One former member of the redistricting committee, which no longer exists, said yesterday she could not remember if she talked with Finneran about the 2001 plan before it was enacted.

"We all talked to each other about the map," said Rep. Shirley Owens-Hicks (D-Mattapan).

"Whether I had a conversation with him personally I don't know - I can't remember."

Another member of the committee said she was not given a copy of the final plan until 10 minutes before it was voted on.

"We just didn't have any access," said Rep. Cory Atkins (D-Concord).

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The Boston Herald
Friday, April 16, 2004

Tommy finds the truth taxing
By Howie Carr


You're Tom Finneran, the speaker of the House, and this is how your life spins out of control.

Tuesday, you do a simple photo op with Teresa Heinz Kerry in your own district, and 48 hours later, you're in a photo finish with a federal grand jury.

And if anybody asks, the U.S. Attorney can just point out that it was the liberals from Common Cause who asked him to investigate your sworn testimony in the U.S. District Court, and handed him a list of reps, all Democrats, who might be willing to sing for their supper.

Does anyone have R. Robert Popeo's cell phone number?

Is it too early to ask John Kerry for a pardon?

The allegation is perjury, and the worst thing is, nobody has to say "sources say" or "according to investigators," because you said it in open court, in front of dozens of people, including three judges and a bunch of reporters.

Who would have ever dreamed it - Li'l Kim indicted for perjury before Tommy Taxes.

You're Tom Finneran, and the good news is, the guy who might be the main witness against you, Rep. Tom Petrolati, doesn't know the meaning of the word "perjury."

The bad news is, Petro doesn't know the meaning of many other words either. Petro is so dumb he thinks a grand jury is one you have to pay a thousand bucks to fix the case.

Under oath, you were asked if you had anything to do with the House redistricting, and you said no, when it wouldn't have mattered if you'd said yes, because you're expected to be concerned with your own district, and your own fate, and that of all your incumbent Boston reps, black and white, straight and gay. Lying about something that doesn't matter, and that everyone knows is a lie - how Bill Clinton is it?

You're Tommy Taxes, and that morning you brought a biography of Winston Churchill into the courtroom with you, but it turns out all you had to offer was blood, sweat and lies.

Is it too late to sand blast every computer hard drive in the office?

You're Tommy Taxes, and you're thinking about the speakers you served under. The first had a majority leader who was recorded on an FBI wire saying that one of his shakedown victims had stiffed him on a payoff and "left me holding the bag with the speaker."

The second speaker had a problem with rugs, not to mention doughnuts. The third one went down on an income-tax evasion rap.

And now there's you, Tommy Taxes, and you think about the vultures on your leadership team who are lining you up for a headshot, like you did with Good Time Charlie Flaherty, and like Charlie did with George Keverian.

Look at these stewbums - Sal DiMasi, the majority leader, whose name and phone number were in a Mafia gangster's address book.

Or Rep. John Rogers, who compared the last speaker to go down on a felony rap to Jesus Christ. At least Rep. Gene O'Flaherty gave your niece a job.

You keep thinking, the feds will never indict you on a chickenbleep perjury charge, and you're probably right, but who needs this?

You'd like your own radio talk show as a golden parachute out of the State House, but with "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." Speech given by at the Lord Mayor's Luncheon, Mansion House, London, November 10, 1942.

the G-men breathing down your neck you're more radioactive than Howard Stern. And your lawyers' bills in this redistricting battle are close to $2 million - to paraphrase Churchill, never have so few been paid so much for so little.

You're Tommy Finneran, and you know what they're thinking behind your back. Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Howie Carr's radio show can be heard every weekday afternoon on WRKO-AM 680, WHYN-AM 560, WGAN-AM 560, WEIM-AM 1280, and WXTK 95.1 FM.

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The Boston Globe
Friday, April 16, 2004

Finneran actions focus of US subpoena
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff


Federal prosecutors who have opened a criminal investigation into the House redistricting process have specifically cited Speaker Thomas M. Finneran in the subpoena they issued, asking for documents that would demonstrate his involvement in the 2001 redistricting, according to a lawyer who has reviewed the subpoena.

Finneran's name is the only one that appears on the subpoena, the lawyer said, a strong indication that the federal investigation is focusing on the veracity of the speaker's testimony in a recent federal trial in which he denied involvement in drawing the legislative map. In an unusual rebuke, the three-judge panel that heard the case questioned the truthfulness of Finneran's assertions.

In addition to records kept by the House Redistricting Committee, the subpoena also seeks hard drives from computers used in redistricting, the lawyer said.

Finneran said yesterday he would not comment on the investigation. The Redistricting Committee announced it has hired a veteran Boston criminal lawyer, Thomas M. Hoopes, to handle the grand jury's request for its records.

"I am in the process of responding to that request," Hoopes said. "The committee will cooperate fully with the request. There will be no further comment of any kind with regard to this matter."

News that a federal grand jury investigation has been launched into the redistricting process set off ripples yesterday through the state's political establishment, especially among Finneran's colleagues in the House.

Finneran's assertion in the trial last year that he had not been involved in the redistricting process has been the subject of intense discussion among House members. During his sworn testimony, he said he did not review any of the redistricting proposals as they moved through the process. He testified that the first time he saw the House plan occurred when the Redistricting Committee "filed its plan with the House clerk, as a member who has an interest. All members do have an interest."

Carol C. Clevens, the former Republican state representative from Chelmsford, told the Globe yesterday that she had a conversation in 2001 with Finneran in his office about the redistricting plan on the day it was being unveiled publicly. She said he told her it would wipe out her suburban Lowell district.

Further, on the day before the plan was made public, according to a person who was present at the meeting, Finneran called to his office three Democratic lawmakers Representatives Kay Khan and Ruth B. Balser of Newton and Peter J. Koutoujian of Watertown. He described in detail what the plan would do, including merging the districts held by Khan and Balser and reshaping Koutoujian's district, the person said.

Asked in a State House elevator yesterday whether he could assure the public that he had been truthful in his sworn testimony, Finneran told a reporter he would not comment and referred to Hoopes's statement. 

"I am just going to leave it at that, for now," Finneran said.

Representative Thomas M. Petrolati, House chairman of the Redistricting Committee, who said Wednesday he had no knowledge of the investigation, also referred questions to Hoopes yesterday.

A senior legislative source who spoke to the Globe Wednesday said that the subpoena asked for documents that would contradict statements made during the federal lawsuit. The suit was brought by voting rights groups who alleged that House lawmakers had diluted minority voters' strengths in their redistricting plan. In response to the lawsuit, on Feb. 24 a three-judge panel ordered the House to redraw its map and questioned the credibility of statements Finneran gave in depositions and testimony during the trial.

"Although Speaker Finneran denied any involvement in the redistricting process, the circumstantial evidence strongly suggests the opposite conclusion," they wrote in a footnote to their ruling.

The judges noted that Finneran had chosen the committee and its chairman and had ensured that the panel hire his boyhood friend, Boston lawyer Lawrence DiCara, a redistricting specialist, as its "principal functionary." The judges also noted that Finneran's then-counsel, John Stefanini, had the software that was used in the redistricting installed on the computer in Stefanini's office.

The speaker, a Mattapan Democrat, is known for his topdown style, and rarely does anything happen in the House without his knowledge and consent. Drawing legislative seats is among the most important political matters that the House considers, because the reshaping can affect the careers of incumbents.

The judges' unusual comment prompted Common Cause Massachusetts last month to ask federal prosecutors to investigate whether Finneran lied under oath during the trial. Pam Wilmot, Common Cause executive director, has volunteered to the US attorney's office a list of lawmakers who she said could provide evidence contradicting Finneran's sworn statements that he was not involved in the process.

The decision to hire Hoopes will add a hefty bill to the nearly $3 million it has cost taxpayers to draw and defend in court the House redistricting plan, completed in 2001. Nearly $600,000 went to DiCara's firm, Nixon Peabody, for the work that he performed.

DiCara's role in the federal investigation is unclear. As a lawyer, he could potentially invoke the attorney/client privilege, blocking the ability of the prosecutors to get him to testify about the details of the redistricting process, some legal analysts suggested yesterday.

DiCara, who told the Globe earlier this week that he was aware of the federal request for documents, was not available for comment yesterday.

The grand jury subpoena was sent March 10 to Petrolati's office.

The legal dispute surrounding the redistricting plan has injected confusion into this year's legislative elections, especially in Boston, because candidates are unsure what the district boundaries will be. Governor Mitt Romney yesterday signed a bill giving candidates until May 11, two weeks more weeks, to collect signatures to run for the House.

The judges have scheduled a hearing for today to consider six plans drawn up by the plaintiffs and House leaders.

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The Boston Herald
Saturday, April 17, 2004

Dems doubt Finneran's testimony
By Elisabeth J. Beardsley


Prominent Bay State Democrats cast doubt yesterday on House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran's claim not to be involved in a state redistricting plan, saying he was a chief author of a congressional map just a few months before.

A federal grand jury probe is under way into whether Finneran lied under oath when he testified he had nothing to do with the creation of the state map.

But several sources told the Herald the powerful speaker's testimony doesn't make sense, given that he was the driving force for the congressional map.

It was Finneran who personally acknowledged deciding to propose elimination of U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan's district because the Lowell Democrat was plotting a run for governor.

"Clearly, it was his plan," said a source close to Meehan. "My impression is that he was very involved."

Finneran personally unveiled the congressional map to newspaper editorial boards, including the Herald on July 10, 2001, explaining it in detail while his hand-picked redistricting chairman, Rep. Thomas M. Petrolati (D-Ludlow), offered little comment.

At the Herald meeting, Finneran said he'd received a glossy campaign-style pamphlet from Meehan, deciding that carving up the Greater Lowell district was easier than other districts since it wouldn't hurt a congressman running for re-election.

"I could just play around the edges, minimize the deviation and say, 'Here it is.' But it would accomplish nothing," Finneran said at the time.

The next day, Finneran held a press conference and personally fielded questions, again while Petrolati stayed largely mum.

Four months later, Finneran released the state redistricting plan.

That proposal led to accusations in a gerrymandering lawsuit and Finneran's sworn testimony that he was not involved in the creation of the map and had never seen it before its public release.

"He was prominently involved in (congressional redistricting)," said a second source.

"It defies logic to imagine that somebody could be so involved in congressional redistricting and not involved at all in redistricting of the Massachusetts House."

Finneran spokesman Charles Rasmussen declined comment.

The speaker has refused comment since the perjury probe began last month, though his office said it is cooperating with federal investigators and responding to subpoenas seeking information.

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The Boston Globe
Saturday, April 17, 2004

In Finneran case, an unusual course
By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff


A federal investigation into whether House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran lied under oath when he testified about a redistricting plan later rejected by a panel of judges is unusual, according to legal specialists and a review of court statistics, because perjury charges are seldom brought as a result of testimony in a civil case.

But Finneran's powerful position, the fact that federally protected voting rights are at stake, and the decision by a panel of judges to describe his testimony as not credible could increase the chances that the US attorney's office would prosecute him for testimony given in a federal trial about the Legislature's 2001 redistricting plan.

But several legal specialists said they consider such charges unlikely.

Of 70,842 cases filed by federal prosecutors across the country in fiscal 2003, only 84 listed perjury as the primary charge, according to an annual survey by the federal court system.

While the analysis didn't specify why charges were brought, criminal lawyers and law professors say such cases usually result from grand jury testimony in cases involving organized crime or violence.

A perjury charge "is quite unusual out of a civil case, but this isn't a garden variety civil case," said Rosanna Cavallaro, who teaches criminal law and evidence at Suffolk University Law School. "It's a civil case in the public eye about our political system, about individuals' voting rights, and about how communities are going to be grouped for voting power. Those are all important issues."

In general, prosecutors are loath to charge someone with perjury because they have to prove the defendant knowingly gave false testimony. That's a tall order, particularly with someone who skillfully parses words, as the nation learned when federal prosecutors sought to indict President Clinton on charges of giving false testimony in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

Federal prosecutors cited Finneran when they subpoenaed documents on his involvement in drawing a legislative map that was challenged in federal court by voting-rights groups, according to a lawyer who reviewed the subpoena. The groups alleged that lawmakers marginalized minority voters' clout and protected white incumbents.

In February, the panel of three federal judges ordered the House of Representatives to redraw the map, ruling that lawmakers sacrificed "racial fairness" to protect incumbents. And it issued an unusual rebuke in response to Finneran's testimony on the stand in November that he wasn't involved in redrawing the districts.

"Although Speaker Finneran denied any involvement in the redistricting process, the circumstantial evidence strongly suggests the opposite conclusion," the panel said, pointing out that he handpicked members of the committee that crafted the plan and hired a longtime ally as its "principal functionary."

Finneran, who is well known for his top-down management style and command of details, also testified that he couldn't recall the name of his Mattapan district (the 12th Suffolk) or its racial makeup.

In response to the judges' criticism, the government watchdog group Common Cause Massachusetts asked federal prosecutors to investigate possible perjury by the speaker. Finneran has declined to comment on the investigation.

Kathy Weinman, a criminal defense lawyer, said federal perjury charges typically stem from false testimony given in criminal cases. Under such circumstances, a perjury charge can be a powerful weapon to make sure the judicial system runs fairly.

"In the usual civil case, you're dealing with two private parties, and the government has a less direct interest," she said.

Nonetheless, she said, federal prosecutors might bring such charges in a civil case if they feel the government has a lot at stake.

Another factor that could fuel the investigation into Finneran's testimony is the fact that the three judges made a point of registering their skepticism. Indeed, Common Cause executive director Pamela Wilmot speculated that it was the judges themselves who initiated the investigation by US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, not the watchdog group.

Wilmot said her group asked federal prosecutors to investigate Finneran's testimony on March 5 and first met with prosecutors on March 8. But prosecutors subpoenaed documents from the Redistricting Committee two days later, leading Wilmot to infer that an investigation was already underway.

"My suspicion, given what we learned over the past few days, is that the judges most likely called the US attorney and called for this investigation, given the timing," she said.

Bruce M. Selya, who sits on the Federal Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and is one of the three judges who heard Finneran's testimony, declined to comment on the investigation. A spokeswoman for the US attorney's office has said federal law prohibits the office from confirming or denying the existence of a probe.

Some former prosecutors expressed strong reservations about pursuing a perjury charge against Finneran. Jeffrey Abramson, a former prosecutor in the Middlesex district attorney's office and the attorney general's office who now teaches legal studies and politics at Brandeis University, said that prosecutors are wary of criticism that they have a "political ax to grind."

A former federal prosecutor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, agreed: "There's no question about it. There will be a claim that this was politically motivated, and that's something the US attorney's office will have to put up with here."

Sullivan is a Republican and a former state representative who once considered challenging US Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Finneran is a Democrat.

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The Boston Herald
Monday, April 19, 2004

Doubting Thomas: Finneran perjury a real tough sell
By Steve Marantz


Federal prosecutors have their work cut out proving House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran perjured himself in a trial that overturned the 2001 legislative redistricting plan, according to legal specialists.

Finneran is being probed by a federal grand jury over sworn testimony that he was not involved in drawing up the racially illegal plan.

While the probe is garnering headlines and buzz in the political world, the burden of proof is formidable, legal scholars say.

"Generally, perjury cases are tough to make, though it looks obvious to the public," said Jeremy Silverfine, a former prosecutor and special U.S. attorney.

Finneran claimed in sworn testimony that he wasn't aware of the redistricting plan until it was filed with the House clerk's office and made public.

The comments are laughable, critics say, since Finneran is known to be involved in all important issues in the House.

But to prove their case, prosecutors need a second sworn statement by Finneran - such as an affidavit - that contradicts his trial testimony, he said.

Computer files and conversations may be used to contradict his sworn statement, but both have inherent flaws that juries often reject, he said.

Federal judges cited "circumstantial evidence" that Finneran was involved in the plan.

"Circumstantial evidence makes a perjury case doubly hard," Silverfine said. "It's one step farther away from direct evidence this person was lying."

Prosecutors also must prove that Finneran perjured himself "materially" - in a manner essential to the redistricting trial - a determination previously made by judges but now given over to juries.

"Now you can talk to the jury and say that the perjury was immaterial - that it really didn't matter," said Roger Witkin, a defense attorney specializing in state and federal white-collar crime.

Most perjurers lie to protect themselves from a criminal charge.

But in Finneran's case, he would not have been criminally vulnerable if he had testified he was involved in the plan, said one former defense attorney, declining to be named.

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The Boston Herald
Monday, April 19, 2004

Mr. Speaker, maybe Martha has room for 2
By Joe Sciacca


Get that man a white umbrella and chinchilla neck-wrap - Tom Finneran is the next Martha Stewart.

Maybe he doesn't know how to make dried-apricot and sage scones or fashion bookends from seashells, but the House speaker has something in common with the household diva: The feds want to make an example of him.

Like Martha, Finneran is a public figure many love to hate. He shamelessly runs an elected body like it is some secret society, thinks he is smarter than just about everybody else and personifies the arrogance of power. Besides that, he's not a bad guy.

Unless the U.S. attorney knows something we don't, it looks like the speaker - correction: the "powerful" speaker - is about to be at the center of another big-game hunt masquerading as a federal grand jury.

They never got Martha for insider trading, they got her for lying. If there was a federal statute against "lying in a particularly priggish way," she would have been slapped with that as well.

The feds believe Finneran lied when he professed no advance knowledge of the legislative redistricting plan later ruled illegal. In politics, they call that spin. In law, they call it perjury.

Yet Finneran is both a politician and a lawyer. This isn't some case of whispers caught on a wiretap. He made the statements for which he is now being held accountable under oath in sworn testimony in front of a stenographer. Does this make any sense?

Out of all the things to lie about - junkets, lobbyists, fund raising, late-night pay hikes - he has to lie about this?

By nearly all accounts, Finneran's Mattapan seat is safe under any redistricting map, so what, exactly, was he lying to conceal? What was the end game big enough to risk a perjury charge? Most likely, he was just trying to be cute. Playing cute would not normally rise to felony status, but this is the speaker we're talking about.

The United States of America vs. Thomas M. Finneran - if there is such a case - would come down to a circumstantial excursion into the murky realm of semantics and intent. One hates to see a bear fall to a cheap trap designed simply to snare a trophy.

If lying - be it through omission, hyperbole, deceit, misrepresentation, distortion or downright barefaced falsification - was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, they'd have to open up a new correction facility: MCI Beacon Hill.

As fate would have it, the hounds are already loose and Tom Finneran is the rabbit, albeit not as wily as might have been expected. There was the speaker, looking quite, well, guilty, as he paced and swerved to duck CBS4's Joe Bergantino the other day.

Mr. Speaker, a word of advice: Do not run from Joe Bergantino. Do not, while in flight, declare the interview "over." Do not, as the TV lights bounce off your head, vow not to address the issue "now and forever." As Martha would say, that's not a good thing.

It's not all bad news. Finneran pal Larry DiCara, whose firm got $600,000 for drawing the redistricting map, got a new title from the federal judges who threw it out, allowing him to run home and announce, "Good news! I'm the speaker's principal functionary!" To think that just a month ago Finneran was sending out 6,000 copies of his Speaker's Address to the Commonwealth, or whatever that annual baloney sling is called, to reporters. Now everybody is digging it out of the trash in case it becomes a collector's item like Buddy Cianci's spaghetti sauce.

Finneran's attraction as a trophy aside, there's no doubt the Legislature needs reforming. It should be smaller, part time, more open, less expensive and yes, less arrogant.

Reform by grand jury isn't the best route - but unfortunately for the speaker, it's quite fashionable these days.

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The Boston Globe
Monday, April 19, 2004

Finneran's focus doubted amid redistricting probe
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff


Last week, during an important House debate about rules that will guide budget deliberations, the usually firm-handed House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran was absent from the chamber for most of the day.

His staff said the speaker had previously scheduled meetings and events out of the office. But his absence as the House took up a subject he would usually carefully control was well noted among House members.

Finneran's allies in the House say the powerful Mattapan Democrat is as engaged and attentive as ever, even as he confronts a federal grand jury probe into whether he lied in a federal trial about redistricting.

But interviews with other State House Democrats, including a half-dozen House members, suggest the normally intense and sharp speaker has appeared more distant and distracted in recent months. They describe interactions with him when Finneran seemed unfocused in responding to questions and lacking in concentration on important issues.

In the heat of last month's legislative debate over gay marriage, a Democratic lawmaker approached the speaker and was surprised by his demeanor as Finneran seemed to fumble for words.

The disjointed conversation, it turns out, took place the day after Finneran learned that federal prosecutors had delivered a subpoena asking for documents that would contradict Finneran's assertions that he was not involved in House deliberations over redistricting in 2001.

"He's not paying attention," said the lawmaker, who spoke to him at the podium and asked not to be identified. "Ask him a question and you don't get an answer. He's totally distracted."

The members are reluctant to speak on the record because of the speaker's power and the sensitivity of the situation he faces with the federal inquiry.

Finneran's spokesman, Charles Rasmussen, said Friday that the speaker was not available for an interview, but disputed accounts of the speaker as disengaged, as did the speaker's lieutenants in the House.

"I meet with him a couple of times a week, interacting with him on a number of matters," said Representative Peter J. Larkin, a Pittsfield Democrat and assistant vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. "He kicks me in the tail every day. I can tell you he is intellectually engaged."

Larkin and other Finneran allies say that the recent problems and controversies have only hardened his resolve and energized him. Asked if he has seen any difference in Finneran since the subpoena was delivered to the House Redistricting Committee March 10, Larkin said: "It doesn't get interesting until it gets challenging, and he has demonstrated that when it gets difficult, he engages."

But the federal inquiry into Finneran's testimony on redistricting is unlikely to fade soon, and could preoccupy the speaker and the House as he seeks to assert his leadership.

On Thursday, more than a dozen lawmakers -- members of an independent bloc of Democratic House members -- met at the Concord home of Representative Cory Atkins. The get-together was planned to craft a strategy for next week's budget debate. But the conversation quickly shifted to Finneran's legal problems -- and the perception that he is off his game.

Finneran allies concede that he has been battered over the last several months, beginning with a hip replacement operation in December and an agonizing and tumultuous gay marriage debate that, with its complicated maneuverings and shifting alliances, seemed to overwhelm the socially conservative speaker.

Then, on Feb. 24, a panel of three federal judges strongly suggested -- in an unusual public rebuke -- that he lied in testimony during the court challenge brought by voting rights groups over the House redistricting plan.

From a review of the transcripts, Finneran, using ambiguous and evasive language, may have created his own problems during depositions and testimony at the trial. The speaker, who usually insists on micromanaging the House's legislative business, left the clear impression that he was not involved in the process of redrawing the district lines in 2001 -- one of the Legislature's most politically sensitive undertakings. Many who have watched Finneran over the years were incredulous.

Whether the speaker's statements are contradicted by other evidence will be the focus of the federal probe over the next few months. But the specter of such an investigation -- with the likelihood that the speaker's close colleagues will be dragged before a grand jury -- has drawn parallels to the experience of his predecessor, Charles F. Flaherty, who was forced out of office in 1996 by a federal probe into his relationship with lobbyists.

Finneran, 54, has, by sheer force of his intellect and hard-ball tactics, dominated State House politics and policymaking for the last eight years.

The outcome of the federal investigation is far from clear, but the potential of it looming over the speaker has complicated his next moves. Finneran has appeared eager to, over the last several years, craft a graceful exit strategy from his Beacon Hill leadership role into another powerful position. The 2002 election of Governor Mitt Romney, his Republican antagonist, shut the door on some options.

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