06 January 2006

More on AG Reilly

Reilly, as quoted by Brian McGrory in this morning's Globe:

Reilly added, ''The law is very clear on this, that autopsy records are not public records. Did I try to protect the family's privacy? Yes, I did. But in a criminal investigation, it's clearly relevant"
[...]
''Those girls made a tragic mistake that night, and they paid for it with their lives. Everything else is irrelevant. I'm irrelevant. For the father to see the pictures of his daughters again in the papers -- they can't take any more."

I asked him if he regretted making the phone call that has caused such a political firestorm, and he didn't hesitate.

''Protecting that family and their private medical records -- no, I don't regret making that call and keeping those records confidential," he replied. ''I would do that for any family to protect their rights and their deceased children's rights. There are real people involved here, two parents and a brother who have lost their daughters and their sister. That's bad enough; don't make it any worse."

It's mentioned in a second piece that "over the course of his career made similar calls to protect the privacy of families. When pressed, he would not detail those circumstances."

To be honest, I don't care if he did it to be a friend or to be a good Attorney General, although it certainly ended up as both. As both articles point out, autopsy records are private, confidential. Reilly's phonecall to the Worcester DA John J. Conte, was then, for all intents and purposes, a reminder to follow the written law in not releasing the records. It has nothing to do with the criminal investigation, which clearly had more than enough evidence that she had been drinking and that alcohol was likely a factor in the crash. There were witnesses aplenty who saw her drinking vodka that night. The media have no reason to see that autopsy without the parents' consent.

Perhaps what we've forgotten about in the rush to figure this story out is that two young women are dead. The two daughters of a couple who just happen to be friends with our state's Attorney General. Reilly seems the only one the past two days who's done a good job at reminding us of the human element involved. Perhaps it's to make him seem more compassionate. Perhaps he is that compassionate.

Gov. Romney, on the other hand, will never be accused of any such thing:

Yesterday, Romney and Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey both said that Reilly's telephone call to Conte appeared to be an attempt to stifle an investigation by the Northborough Police Department. Romney said the attorney general's action contradicts recent efforts on Beacon Hill to crack down on drunk driving.

''Hushing up of circumstances or giving the appearance that there will be a hushing up of circumstance is something which I think suggests that the attorney general may not have gotten the message that is emanating from this building," Romney told a State House press conference, which had been called for another topic.
The message emanating from Willard's building is that he doesn't care about a single resident of this state, and that he never has. From duck trips to fundraisers to pejorative comments on duck trips and fundraisers, we are all assured that W. Mitt simply doesn't care too much for or about his constituents.

It's possible Reilly stifled an ongoing investigation, though I'm hestitant to believe that not releasing the records actually interfered with the investigation, given the preponderance of other evidence. But, at least, through it all, Reilly showed himself to be a compassionate person who, for whatever reason, did the right thing --- as a person, an AG,and a potential governor.

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