Report: Biden Labor Secretary Delayed Investigation Into Abusive Cop Amid Confirmation

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh / Getty Images
May 20, 2021

Labor secretary and former Boston mayor Marty Walsh's mayoral administration delayed an investigation into an abusive cop in the middle of Walsh's confirmation process, according to a report released by the Boston city government.

The Democrat's administration appointed an independent investigator to look into allegations that a Walsh-appointed police commissioner abused his wife, but abruptly ordered the investigator to wrap up the investigation, according to the report, as Walsh prepared for a Senate confirmation vote to become secretary of the Department of Labor. The report, written by an external law firm, revealed that the investigation into Police Commissioner Dennis White began on Feb. 12—just one day after a Senate panel voted to advance Walsh's nomination to the floor. The auditor told city officials she had expected to complete the report in "four to six weeks" but ran into immediate roadblocks. On February 22, the Walsh administration ordered the outside investigator to halt her inquiries and gave her just two days to report her findings.

"I was asked to provide a final report of the investigation to the extent possible. As the investigation was in a preliminary phase, I was unable to make any findings at that time. I submitted a brief memorandum summarizing the status of the investigation," the investigator wrote. "l was contacted again by [city] Attorney [Susan] Weise on March 1, 2021, and informed that this investigation was to resume."

The weeklong pause helped the Democrat avoid a potentially damaging news cycle during the confirmation process. Walsh's confirmation hearing occurred on Feb. 4, and a Senate panel voted to advance his nomination on Feb. 11. The Senate confirmed Walsh on March 22 by a 68-29 margin—about six weeks after the initial investigation was launched. The report was ultimately finished in April.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor told CommonWealth Magazine that Walsh requested an update to the investigation and had intended to wrap it up before he left office to become labor secretary.

"In late February, Walsh requested an update on the status of the investigation, in the hopes of sharing its findings with the public and resolving the issue before leaving the mayor’s office," the spokesperson said. "When it became clear that the investigation was ongoing, Walsh directed the investigation to continue, which ultimately led to the report issued [to the public on May 15]."

The Department of Labor did not respond to a request for comment on why Walsh deemed it necessary to stop the investigation in order to receive "an update on the status."

Walsh has faced scrutiny for allegedly obstructing another investigation as he awaited confirmation. When the Boston Globe attempted to obtain records related to a police officer accused of sexually assaulting a minor, the Walsh administration stonewalled the release of the documents. Acting mayor Kim Janey took office in mid-March, shortly after Walsh's confirmation, and pledged to provide "as much information to the public as possible about the circumstances surrounding the internal affairs investigation and how leadership at the time responded to the findings." She overruled the Walsh administration's objections and released a portion of the documents in April.