Boston and Beyond (available in copies of the SOUTH END NEWS at Boston news stands through July 5, 2007.)
Kevin John Sowyrda
The media has shown a fancy of late for a staffing problem at Team Romney, where everybody is presumed to be as straight as they are straight shooters; with at least one exception that is. It appears that coatholder-in-chief Jay Garrity may have been a Mall Cop in another life; which is to say that he’s obsessed with pretending be to a real and bonafide member of the constabulary. To that end, Garrity has been caught with his badge off — or on — as various law enforcement officials investigate him for pretending to be them. Garrity is also charged with flashing in public — his blue lights, that is. Mr. Garrity is now on leave from Camp Romney, which translated from politic speak means his next job in the Byzantine world of campaigning will be licking envelopes for the Mississippi State Republican Party.
But there are bigger staffing skeletons in the multi-million dollar operation which is the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Just as the media made quite the fuss about contender John Edwards hiring two staffers who in another life had written allegedly anti-Catholic commentaries as bloggers, the press should be quite interested in two of Romney’s top advisors who were the de facto managers of the Massachusetts state treasury when it suffered a $10 million embezzlement scandal, the worst in state history.
Eric Fehrnstrom and Beth Myers were hardly shrinking violets at Treasurer Joe Malone’s office when nearly $10 million was heisted from the taxpayers. Fehrnstrom, recently identified by the Washington Post as “always at Romney’s side,” was deputy state treasurer and Myers was chief of staff when the office they ran was pilfered of enough cash to buy a sweet pad near Romney’s grotesquely opulent manse at Lake Winnipesaukee.
Though the Edwards camp was excoriated in the mainstream media for retaining two bloggers who dared to differ with arcane Catholic dogma, there’s been no article I can find in the mainstream media, blogosphere or any other sphere regarding the fact that Romney’s two campaign chieftains had day-to-day control of a public agency where cash was quite literally carried out the front door by political loyalists appointed by them, and the elected treasurer, Joe Malone.
When it was revealed that the cronies of Malone, Myers and Fehrnstrom had been siphoning cash over an extended, six year period, the three quickly became objects of derision in the press. Although none were charged with any crimes, in the court of public opinion, they were seen as guilty of a comical level of mismanagement.
When asked by the Associated Press if he and his top managers were “guilty” of not keeping a proper eye on the store, Malone, a life long Republican, said that he did not have a preference for “micro managing” and that he trusted those working under his chain of command. So much for Reagan’s famous advice, “trust but verify.”
When all was said in done, prison sentences were handed out and the only thing we can say regarding Malone, Fehrnstrom and Myers is that their careers were suddenly in cryogenics. When you manage an office so well that a cool $10 million is slipped by your nose, it tends not to endear you to the employers browsing your Monster.Com resume posting.
But then came Mr. Ethics, Mitt Romney. His Excellency’s first move as governor was to resurrect Fehrnstrom and Myers to run the executive suite on . Myers would become an alter ego to Romney as his thoroughly loyal chief of staff. (It was Myers who was widely reported to have played an instrumental role in advising Romney to abolish the advisory commission on LGBT youth, which had been a meritorious invention of one of Romney’s Republican predecessors, William F. Weld.)
As for Fehrnstrom, he became the highest paid communications director in the history of the governor’s office, and was sometimes making news more than giving the governor’s reaction to it. On one occasion at the offices of New England Cable News, Fehrnstrom was accused by one of the station’s producers of attempting to assault another on-air guest, longtime North Adams Mayor John Barrett. Not much came of the incident, except to reinforce Fehrnstrom’s reputation as a petty, political scrapper.
But today, the petty political scrapper and the ultra conservative chief of staff to a state treasurer, and then a governor, are quite literally running the day-to-day operations of a presidential campaign. They do so with humble people like me still wondering if they were merely guilty of an abysmal level of managerial ignorance.
Either way, the press has a bigger story in Fehrnstrom and Myers than they’ll ever have in the coat holder who likes to play cop.