Is a public official responsible for the behavior of his next of kin?

First, a stipulation: the Twitter fight between Campbell and the BPPA was misguided, on both fronts, and not just on that of the union, as has been the conventional take. The two sides could have defended their positions and their interests without harming the integrity of the other.

Unless conclusive evidence emerges to suggest that either party allowed or aided in another’s crime, ascribing collective guilt on him – for his brother Alvin, who is accused of being a rapist serial ; to the union for its former leader who is accused of raping children and has kept his job despite some members of the department believing that the allegations against him which surfaced in 1995 – is unfair and, like most wars on the networks social, only makes a few headlines.

But the larger question raised by the dispute deserves attention.

The most obvious example for comparison is former Senate and UMass Speaker Bill Bulger and his gangster brother, serial murderer, Whitey.

I guess some people who think he was inappropriate for the troller Campbell union about his brother had no problem with Bill Bulger being kicked out of UMass because of his refusal to publicly repudiate his brother. or assist in its capture.

And, in fairness, there were some key differences. Campbell did not use his notoriety to plead his brother’s innocence. On the contrary, she praised the courage of her alleged victims to come forward.

Throughout his public life, Bill Bulger has largely denied his brother’s criminality, especially his deadliest side. On more than one occasion, Bill Bulger has told me and others that the allegations against his brother, especially those regarding his involvement in drugs, were politically motivated libel, pushed by people who didn’t. did not like, his family or the FBI.

This claim came to light for the nonsense she had when Whitey Bulger’s trial opened in federal court in 2013, when her own attorneys admitted their client had raked in millions in tribute by allowing the drugs to circulate freely in South Boston. Whitey Bulger did, of course, while his politician brother privately insisted for anyone who would hear him that Whitey was a benevolent and cultured gangster, but certainly not a malicious killer and drug dealer.

As if there was a huge difference.

From everything I’ve seen from his record, Campbell uses his life story for inspiration, without dodging the awkward parts involving his family members who have been involved in crime.

In a campaign video, she says her father was jailed while she was growing up, that her brother André died in prison while awaiting trial. His frankness contrasts sharply with that of Bill Bulger.

Raised in Roxbury and the South End, her educational journey from Boston Latin to Princeton to UCLA Law is just as impressive as Bill Bulger’s rise from a South Boston housing project to Boston College High School, BC and BC. Law.

Some might question Campbell’s suitability as mayor, given his family history. I do not. I did not question Bill Bulger’s suitability as a senator and voted for him regularly when I lived in South Boston, until I realized how much he stood up for his brother and denied Whitey’s murderous exploits. Beyond the protection offered to him by the FBI, Whitey could not have survived all these years without the help of his family, especially that of Bill.

Pretty much everything is a fair game in love and politics. But attacking Campbell for the criminality of his family members is not. On the contrary, her experience might make her a more empathetic politician, and we might use more of it.

When all is said and done, and Alvin Campbell’s trial is over, the state of Massachusetts may be her brother’s keeper, but she isn’t.


Kevin Cullen is a columnist for The Globe. He can be contacted at [email protected]


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