June 28, 2011

Mobster 'Whitey' Bulger's Arrest and the Mitt Romney Connection

By David Paulin

Notorious mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, now 81, got away with murder – at least 19 alleged killings during his years in the 'Irish mob' in South Boston in the 1970s to mid-1980s. And one of the Bay State's most prominent Democrats almost certainly helped Bulger, on the run since 1974, evade capture for so long.

Therein lies a story about how Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romey stood up to that Democrat – Bulger's brother Billy: He was a major player in the Bay State's Democratic political machine and president of the University of Massachusetts.

Soon after the FBI captured Bulger in Santa Monica on Wednesday, Romney spoke out about Bulger's arrest, saying in a statement: "I hope the capture of Whitey Bulger brings some measure of relief to the families of his numerous victims. It brings to a close a sad and sordid chapter in recent Massachusetts history."

Indeed, that story is detailed in a fascinating Los Angeles Times article: "'Whitey' Bulger arrest: The Mitt Romney connection." Reporter Christine Mai-Duc describes how Republican Gov. Romney did the right thing during his early years as governor -- waging a "crusade" against the Democratic machine and Billy Bulger in an effort to oust Bulger from his post at the University of Massachusetts.

To Gov. Romney and others, it was obvious that Bulger had some contact with his brother; and yet he failed to help law enforcement apprehend him -- a situation that was unacceptable to Gov. Romney. He resolved that having Bulger as president of the University of Massachusetts was unacceptable -- but getting Bulger out was not easy. As Mai-Duc explains: "The battle between Romney and Billy Bulger, a seemingly invincible figure in the Bay State's political machine, was fierce, and Romney did not back down even after being rejected by the university's board of trustees."

She notes:

"Billy Bulger had admitted to a grand jury, under protection of immunity, that he'd spoken to his brother after he'd become a fugitive in 1995. 'I do have an honest loyalty to my brother, and I care about him,' said Bulger, in a grand jury testimony that was leaked to the Boston Globe. I don't feel an obligation to help everyone to catch him.'"

Eventually, Romney "introduced an overhaul of the education system, which included the elimination of Bulger's position. Later, he called on Bulger to resign, saying the episode was casting a shadow on the university."

The FBI is portraying the arrest of Bulger as a great victory for law-enforcement. In fact, his belated capture is a great and embarrassing defeat -- both for the FBI and the Bay State's Democratic machine. Bulger is now an old man, and reportedly he's in ailing health. Essentially, he spent his retirement years in peace, enjoying the good life in Santa Monica with his girlfriend, and enjoying millions of dollars he'd apparently stashed away during his mob days. Essentially, he got away with murder.

He can apparently thank his brother Billy for that, along with a corrupt FBI "handler" who tipped him off that he was about to be arrested, after an indictment was issued charging him with murder, racketeering, and other crimes. But at least there is a positive story here – the one about Gov. Romney's battle with Billy Bulger and the Bay State's formidable Democratic machine.

A version of this was originally published at The American Thinker blog.

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