Massachusetts: John Tierney Tries to Turn the Page After Bad Week

A new GOP poll shows Tierney is vulnerable. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
A new GOP poll shows Tierney is vulnerable. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted July 3, 2012 at 3:23pm

Updated 3:45 p.m. | Massachusetts Rep. John Tierney (D), facing allegations that he had knowledge of his inlaws’ gambling operation, held a press conference today in an attempt to answer questions and turn the page away from a politically damaging story.

“I am telling the truth. I have always told the truth,” he said at the press conference where he explained he was aware of what he thought was a legal off-shore gambling operation, according to the Boston Globe’s Glen Johnson.

Late last week, Daniel and Robert Eremian, brothers-in-law of the eight-term Congressman, both said he had knowledge of their gambling ring. “He knew everything that was going on,” Daniel Eremian told the Salem News, after being sentenced to serve years in prison on illegal gambling charges.

“I will verify everything that my brother said, which will show John Tierney is lying,” Robert Eremian, a fugitive living in the Caribbean, told the Boston Globe.

At the press conference today, Tierney said the brothers were mad “because their brother-in-law the Congressman didn’t make this go away for them,” according to the Globe.

Tierney released a statement after the press conference that said his brother-in-laws’ “attacks fly in the face of the federal judge in this case, who went out of his way to publicly clear me of any involvement stating, and once again I’m quoting here, that I was ‘not implicated in this in any way, shape or form.'”

Tierney’s wife, Patrice, pleaded guilty in 2010 to “willful blindness” in filing false federal tax returns for her brother and served time in prison. Tierney has not been implicated in any wrongdoing or illegality.

National Democrats appear to remain in Tierney’s corner for now, if a little tepidly.

“John Tierney has a strong record of representing his constituents,” one national Democrat said in an email, “and he’ll continue that strong representation after he’s re-elected in November.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have both reserved millions of dollars in TV time in the Boston media market, which could be used in the race between Tierney and presumptive GOP nominee Richard Tisei.

National Republicans have always been hopeful about Tisei’s candidacy. Tisei is a former state Senator and 2010 GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, and his moderate political profile (openly gay, he is libertarian on social issues and fiscally conservative) fits the independent-leaning district well.

The recent slew of news stories about Tierney’s family’s woes have given national Republicans a sense that this albatross of an issue for Tierney isn’t going away anytime soon. And that’s a good thing for their prospects in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican to the House of Representatives since 1994.

Still, Tisei has an albatross of his own and it comes in the form of an “R” after his name on the ballot. In a Democratic state in a presidential year, he’ll have to have the resources to convey a very potent message about his record to voters. Tisei outraised Tierney in the last quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of this year. But a big metric for just how serious his campaign will be is second-quarter fundraising figures, which are due July 15.