It would never have been a good fit: former US attorney Carmen Ortiz hanging around the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics at Harvard — at least as along as former US representative William Delahunt is there as acting director.
It’s not clear what prompted the school to rebuff her interest in being a fellow — a prestigious, semester-long gig frequently offered to distinguished former public servants. But sources, who requested anonymity to discuss personnel, say Ortiz made overtures about the position, and Delahunt quashed it.
Unfortunately for Ortiz, and as with most prosecutors, she created a good deal of enmity within the political class with her tough — some say too tough — pursuit of corruption cases. Neither Ortiz, Delahunt, or the IOP responded to requests for comment.
One potential rub? Her indictment of Cambridge defense lawyer Tim Flaherty, the son of former House Speaker Charles Flaherty. The younger Flaherty cut his teeth as a lawyer, working for nearly nine years as a prosecutor for Delahunt, then the Norfolk district attorney, in the 1990s.
Ortiz’s prosecutors claimed Flaherty tampered with a hate crime case by offering cash to a victim in exchange for not pursuing a case against his client. He pleaded to reduced charges a year ago and was placed on a year’s probation during which he could not practice law.
The case kicked up a storm in some important corners of the political and legal defense community. And Delahunt is known for his loyalty to his former prosecutors — just ask William Keating, his successor in the DA’s office, who fired some of Delahunt’s staff in 1996, a move that created a bitter rift between the two.
And it certainly did not help that Ortiz beat out Delahunt’s nephew for the US attorney’s job in 2009, despite the then-congressman’s heavy lobbying for him with then-US Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
So Ortiz’s appointment as a fellow was pretty much up to Delahunt. He served last year as interim when director Maggie Williams took a leave to join Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Williams resigned last month — prompting Delahunt to again serve as the interim until a replacement is found.
Ortiz, who oversaw such high-profile cases as Whitey Bulger and the Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, did finally land a sinecure, although it is not exactly Harvard — nor does it have the shine of the Kennedy name.
This fall, she will be the Jerome Lyle Rappaport visiting professor at Boston College Law School.
Frank Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.