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October 23, 2014

Opinion: Boston Globe Blew It on Attorney General's Suit Aiding Charity

A Boston magazine editor takes The Boston Globe to task for an article the daily published last week that he says misleadingly linked a lawsuit filed by Massachusetts Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley and a housing nonprofit headed by one of her financial backers.

The June suit challenges federal mortgage agencies' refusal to sell foreclosed homes to nonprofits that want to return them to the original owners. One such group, Boston Community Capital, is led by Elyse Cherry, who co-chairs Ms. Coakley's campaign-finance committee.

Boston contributing editor David S. Bernstein says the Globe's coverage implied Ms. Cherry and her organization could benefit from the suit when "there is literally no such allegation" reported in the article, which does not factually rebut Ms. Cherry's assertion that the legal case would not affect her salary or the charity's income.

"What we have here is the rather common occurrence of a financial backer ... whose organization's policy interest is shared by the candidate," Mr. Bernstein writes. At worst, Ms. Coakley failed to go beyond legal disclosure requirements by publicizing her already "well-known, long-standing relationship" with Ms. Cherry when she filed the suit.