It’s safe to assume that few employees of the state’s sheriffs and district attorneys are clamoring to finance their bosses’ political ambitions, but it’s all too easy to understand why many do. When elected law enforcement officials accept campaign contributions from their employees, there are bound to be accusations that people who donate are more likely to be hired, retained, and promoted than people who don’t.
A recent article by the Globe’s Peter Schworm and Matt Carroll found that while at least seven sheriffs and district attorneys accepted no contributions from employees between 2008 and 2012, another seven accepted $20,000 or more during the same period. At the top of the list was Essex County Sheriff Frank G. Cousins Jr., who collected at least $195,000 from employees before ending the practice last year amid allegations that employees had been pressured to donate. Other sheriffs and DAs should enact similar policies. It’s a matter of clean politics and good management: Nothing undercuts morale more than the perception that public employees’ livelihoods are being subordinated to political favoritism.