TWO HIGH-PROFILE prosecutions — one against senior officials in the state’s Probation Department, another aimed at former treasurer Tim Cahill — are after more than mere convictions. They seek instead to change entirely the culture of politics in Massachusetts. More likely, all they’ll do is just drive deeper underground the behaviors they target.
Two weeks ago, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz unveiled indictments against the Probation Department’s former head, John O’Brien, as well as two senior staffers. Ortiz charged that the department routinely ignored civil service rules, “institut[ing] a hiring system that catered to requests of Massachusetts legislators.’’ Ten days later, state Attorney General Martha Coakley dropped her own bombshell, indicting Cahill and two of his aides for using Lottery advertisements to promote Cahill’s image while he was embroiled in a campaign for governor.