I-Team: Essex County Sheriff Changes Fundraising Practices

By Kathy Curran, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – The Sheriff of Essex County makes some big changes in the way he raises campaign money just days after the I-Team exposes some questionable practices.

The I-Team first reported that current and former employees of the department say that pressure to contribute to Sheriff Frank Cousin’s campaign is standard operating procedure at the Essex County Sheriff’s department. Our confidential source explained, “Everyone is expected to donate. If you don’t donate, you’re not promoted. Supervisors are always coming up to people and saying you know the sheriff would really like to see you at this event.”

WBZ-TV’s Kathy Curran reports

Our investigation found more than 300 sheriff’s department employees and their immediate family members donated over 400 thousand dollars to his political war chest since 2005. Cousins refused our request for an interview and denies the accusations. When we approached him at his Newburyport home he said, “No-one is pressured to contribute.”

But when we first began asking questions he changed his policy immediately and vowed to stop accepting contributions from employees except his command staff. Just days later that policy has changed yet again. After our first story we asked Sheriff Cousins for all department records reflecting payments to all vendors doing business with the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, both companies and individuals. Now, two days after that request, the sheriff says he will no longer accept campaign donations from anyone affiliated with his office, including vendors.

Pam Wilmot is with the government watchdog group Common Cause Massachusetts. Wilmot said, “Having a good policy going forward doesn’t erase what happened in the past. If there were illegalities in the past, they need to be prosecuted and investigated.”

Pressuring employees for donations and soliciting contributions in a government building are both illegal. In a previous statement Sheriff Cousins called these accusations quote – “anonymous personal attacks” by disgruntled employees. Cousins has confirmed that one-third of the 1.2 million dollars he has raised since 2005 has come from sheriff’s department employees and their relatives.

  • Raul Duke

    Can you please come on down to Plymouth County with the same questions. If you line up campaign donations with hiring and promotions it makes a very straight line. The documentation is irrefutable. The office of the Sheriff is antiquated and no longer necessary. The Commonwealth is the sole funding source for this office. The Sheriffs use the money to fund an ongoing political machine. The waste to the taxpayer is huge and not apparent to the unconnected.

  • susan

    As a former county sheriff employee it is understood that if you want to move up, you have to buy tickets to the Sheriff’s functions, it is a political entity. For Cousins to say it’s disgruntled employees making accusations is a crock and he knows it. I did not work for him but another high profile sheriff. If it is not true then how does a used car salesman go from selling cars to being part of homeland security with absolutely no military background or experience?

  • dan

    this is massachusetts..it is who you know not what you know

  • SN

    Frank is nothing more than a complete bully. I have been a long time employee and I have seen it every single year. Every time there is a function coming up the phone calls come in. Invitations are sent to employee’s houses for his birthday party etc. If you want to go to the function, for example at Angelica’s in Middleton you are not allowd to write a check so you can claim it you are only allowd to pay in cash. I wonder sometimes, is that 400,000+ the real number? How much of that cash is going directly into his pocket? And those cash events are they even documented? About 90% of all people that have received raises have donated to his campaign. Sickening! On top of that when there is a new position open in Administration you should see the bidding war going on. Whoever wins and donates the most wins. Is you are part of his administration and you dont make it to one of his events, that person will end up getting disciplined and put on 11-7 shift commander or some type of job that they do not want, just out of spite. God forbid an officer makes a mistake and has to be disciplined. The first thing the Sheriff does is look to see if he is on the contribution list. If he is not that officer gets a more severe punishment. getting back to the contributions, every time there is a function, especially his birthday and booze cruise take a look at the attendence at the jail. Look at the history. Days and weeks before and after the function. If anyone put in a slip for a vaction day or a personal day they were denied, now look at the day of his function. The jail was running at bare minimum and sometimes dangerous staffing levels. But it was ok because every single person that put in for a personal or a vacation day got approved. What a shock. He would rather have as many people ay his function as possible and leave one officer on the unit or the jail without a fully staffed response team so that he could put the cash in his pocket. Typical Pathetic Politician. He is nothing but a corrupt Sheriff that needs to resign and be prosecuted. Only in American can an ex car salesman and an Ex drunk become the high Sheriff in Massachusetts and be responsible for so many people and their livlihood

  • Maher

    This Katie switch is a neaywr already, and was after 10 minutes.How can anyone really get excited either way about who it is that reads the news to us?

blog comments powered by Disqus
Taz Show
Download Weather App

Listen Live