Maura Healey doesn’t own the three-story Charlestown townhouse she used as a campaign headquarters for her fledgling attorney general campaign. Although Healey, the former head of the civil rights division in the AG’s office, lives there, the property legally belongs to her partner, Gabrielle R. Wolohojian.
No problem, ordinarily — except that Wolohojian is a state judge. For her to provide rent-free space to a political candidate and her staff appears to run afoul of the common-sense rule that judges should go out of their way to avoid even the appearance of political bias.
In this case, the rule may seem a little pedantic — does anyone really imagine Wolohojian doesn’t support her partner in the race? — but the rules governing the judiciary are properly strict, and judges must be expected to observe them scrupulously. In the past, the Massachusetts Committee on Judicial Ethics ruled that a judge couldn’t even put up a lawn sign for a relative running for office, and providing free office space is clearly a more substantive form of support than a sign.
Healey’s campaign moved to a $2,850-a-month space downtown in March, and the issue is unlikely to cause much of a stir in the race. Voters have bigger things to worry about. Nonetheless, Wolohojian and judges in similar positions should know better.