The woman so terrible that she managed to hand Ted Kennedy's Senate seat temporarily over to Republicans is back and has landed the Democratic nomination for governor of Massachusetts. Attorney General Martha Coakley lost a special Senate race in 2010 to Republican Scott Brown, who warmed the chair for a couple of years until Elizabeth Warren snagged it back for team blue.
Coakley will be facing Republican Charlie Baker for governor, and according to the Boston Globe she already underperformed in the primary Tuesday, winning in a closer margin than expected (she pulled 42 percent against two candidates who received 36 and 21 percent, respectively). According to the Globe, Coakley intends to portray Baker as a plutocrat (he's a venture capital executive) while he focuses on ending the Democratic stranglehold on state government.
The current Globe story doesn't talk much about Coakley's background or how awful her campaign was in 2010, but Reason did. Former Reason Editor Michael C. Moynihan (now at The Daily Beast and sometimes on The Independents) picked apart her lackluster campaign, but more importantly, detailed her awful behavior as a prosecutor and her apparent lack of regret for putting innocent people in prison using discredited evidence:
As the head of a child abuse and sex crimes unit and later as district attorney, Martha Coakley was a strong proponent of using discredited techniques of "recovering memory" of past child abuse.
As a result, innocent men like Gerald Amirault, a former daycare operator who, along with his mother and sister, was accused of molesting children in his care, was released a long 18 years after his conviction. Wall Street Journal writer Dorthy Rabinowitz, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the Amirault case, wrote that after coaching by therapists, "Mrs. Amirault was accused of raping a child with a magic wand, of assaulting another sexually with a large butcher knife, Gerald of abusing children in a magic room while dressed as a clown, and Cheryl of similar unspeakable violations." After the case collapsed, and long after the family had been convicted, Coakley personally lobbied then-Governor Jane Swift to block Gerald Amirault's release.
While the Amirault case has received the most coverage, there's also the case of Ray and Shirley Souza, who were accused of molesting both their children and grandchildren. As with the Amarault case, no credible physical evidence existed of sexual assault—but that didn't stand in the way of the hyper-ambitious Coakley. "What we have are 6- and 7-year-old female children testifying credibly about incidents in the recent past." Those credible incidents included being forced to drink a "green potion" before being inappropriately touched, being molested by a giant robot, and Ray Souza putting his head in his granddaughter's vagina and "wiggling" it around.
The Amiraults and Souzas were railroaded; their lives were ruined. Coakley, always forthright about her political ambitions (in 2004, she announced that she would seek Sen. John Kerry's seat if he won the presidency), stands by her overzealous prosecutions and defends the convictions. When asked about the bizarre and incredible tales "recovered" by the Souza grandchildren, Coakley offered this curious defense of the prosecutions: "Kids cannot fabricate a comprehensive lie about putting their fingers in their grandmother's vagina and say it feels slimy and tell that to an interviewer and say it in court again six months later."
Read more here. And here she is getting slapped down by the courts after helping draft a completely unconstitutional law to try to censor adult content on the Internet. And here she is defending officials in Boston freaking out over blinking signs promoting cartoon show Aqua Teen Hunger Force and thinking that they're bombs because they were electronic and had wires.