Politics & Policy

Biden Ignores the Skeletons in His Labor Secretary’s Closet

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh speaks during a news conference at the White House, April 2, 2021. (Erin Scott/Reuters)
As Boston mayor, Marty Walsh reportedly obstructed efforts to uncover the extent of a high-ranking police officer’s alleged child abuse.

For decades, the mainstream media’s double standards have fed conservative distrust, and now we have our latest example.

Back in 2019, the D.C. press had a field day with allegations that President Trump’s first labor secretary, Alex Acosta, had failed to prosecute credibly accused sexual abuser of children Jeffrey Epstein in his former role as a U.S. attorney. Facing the firestorm of criticism, Acosta was forced to resign from Trump’s cabinet.

So far, the mainstream press has failed to ask similarly tough questions of Biden labor secretary Marty Walsh. And Biden isn’t responding to troubling questions about Walsh, who was Boston’s mayor last summer when Patrick Rose, a former city police-union boss, was arrested on 33 counts of sexually abusing children.

As I noted last week, Walsh’s hometown press says that in his role as mayor, he obstructed efforts to hold Rose accountable, hiding facts that could have hurt his chances of being confirmed as labor secretary. Prosecutors allege that some of Rose’s abuse occurred during Walsh’s mayorship.

Rose, who has pleaded innocent to the charges, deserves due process, but the facts are grim. After serving 24 years in the Boston Police Department, including three years leading the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association from 2014–2017, Rose was arrested in August. Yet allegations had first swirled around him decades earlier.

In 1995, Rose faced a criminal charge for allegedly sexually abusing a child. But according to the Boston Globe, prosecutors ended up dropping the charge after the accuser “recanted his story under pressure from Rose.” The Globe has reported that child-welfare investigators had “reasonable cause to believe” the child in question had been abused, but without his testimony, the case went nowhere.

The Globe has also reported that in 1997, an attorney for the police union wrote the police commissioner with a complaint from Rose, who after the molestation charge was sequestered to a desk job. After the lawyer threatened to file a grievance, Rose got his patrol badge back and was once again allowed to work on child-sexual-assault cases, putting him in contact with children. Prosecutors charge that Rose then sexually abused at least five more children, some of them during Walsh’s mayoralty.

After Rose was arrested, the Globe filed public-records requests for documentation of the charges, the internal investigation, and the union’s response. But Walsh’s administration rejected the requests, claiming that privacy concerns prevented it from releasing the records. The Wall Street Journal reports that “even when the state supervisor of public records refuted [the privacy-concerns excuse], the Walsh administration balked—at one point ignoring for two months the supervisor’s order that it better explain why the records should remain secret. Mr. Walsh’s successor, Acting Mayor Kim Janey, finally released a redacted version on April 20, but only after Mr. Walsh was confirmed as Labor secretary. This means the Rose story wasn’t known during Mr. Walsh’s Senate confirmation hearing.”

Walsh breezed through his Senate committee hearing with a favorable 18-4 vote. He was then confirmed by a 68–29 vote of the full Senate, with 18 Republicans voting in his favor and three senators not voting. I reached out to the offices of all 18 GOP senators to see if any of them would have reversed their votes knowing the facts of Walsh’s involvement with the Rose case; none had responded at press time. (Walsh’s office at the Department of Labor and the White House press secretary’s office also failed to respond to requests for comment.) But as the Journal’s editorial board notes, there’s good reason to think that knowledge of the Rose scandal might have made Walsh’s confirmation more difficult, given its clear relevance to his new job:

The Rose coverup is relevant to Mr. Walsh’s duties at the Labor department. One of his obligations is to enforce rules regarding union transparency. In response to the corruption scandal at the United Auto Workers, the Trump Administration implemented new rules to enhance union financial disclosures. But the Biden Administration has already suggested it will get rid of them. Unions continue to complain about even the current level of financial reporting and will pressure Mr. Walsh to eliminate much if not all, of the paltry, current requirements.

Last week, 15 police unions across the country endorsed a proposed slate of reforms designed in part to better hold wrong-doing officers accountable. But holding toxic police-union bosses and the politicians who cover for them accountable doesn’t yet seem to be on the agenda.

After Acosta was forced to resign, the Trump DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility investigated him and issued a report saying that he’d shown “poor judgment” in his handling of the Epstein case. Will the Biden DOJ conduct a similar review of Walsh?

Don’t hold your breath.

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