BOSTON, Massachusetts: Two reports by government investigators released this week said that Rachael Rollins, the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts, improperly used her US Justice Department position to meddle in a local district attorney election by leaking fake news to newspapers about a political rival.
The reports were released by Justice Department Inspector-General Michael Horowitz and the independent US Office of Special Counsel.
Appointed by Democratic President Joe Biden as the first Black woman to serve as US attorney in Massachusetts, Rollins announced she would resign.
The 161-page inspector-general's report highlighted several lapses of ethics, such as Rollins improperly attending a Democratic fundraising event with US first lady Jill Biden, and accusations that she "knowingly and willfully made a false statement" during her interview with Horowitz's office.
Stressing that the case is "one of the most egregious Hatch Act violations" it had ever investigated, the report said that Rollins "willfully violated" the Hatch Act, which limits the political activities of federal employees.
The investigations were launched at the urging of Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton.
The reports described Rollins' interference in the vote during the Democratic primary election for the Suffolk County district attorney position that she vacated.
Justice Department and OSC investigators discovered many text messages showing that Rollins was working behind the scenes to help Ricardo Arroyo win the election against rival Kevin Hayden, who won and now serves as the county DA.
"No mercy. Finish him," Rollins wrote in one July 2022 text.
The investigators said Rollins planted negative information about Hayden in Boston Globe articles and then used those stories to encourage a Justice Department investigation.
Rollins later leaked to the Boston Herald a sensitive Justice Department memo saying she would be recused from any Hayden-related investigation.
The investigating agency stated that "by leaking non-public Department of Justice information for the purpose of damaging Mr. Hayden's campaign, Ms. Rollins violated the Hatch Act prohibition against using her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the results of an election."
In response, Rollins' attorney Michael Bromwich said the inspector-general's allegations "amount to minor process fouls."
In a statement, Bromwich said, "Though Ms. Rollins could have raised many facts and arguments in connection with these issues, she had no interest in litigating them any further. She believed the better course was to step down."