Will they discuss their family issues?
That has been the prevailing question over the weekend in the 6th Congressional District race, as Rep. John Tierney and challenger Richard Tisei publicly sparred over whether Tierney’s family problems will be a topic of discussion at four upcoming debates.
The Tierney camp reportedly tried to squash any such questions about his in-laws’ gambling enterprise by asking organizers in two of the four debates that the discussion topics stay on public policy and policy matters.
Yesterday, Tierney tried to put that issue to rest, releasing a statement asking for the family questions to come.
“Today, I call on organizers of Thursday’s debate to make the very first question for candidates about family,” he said. “In working with debate organizers, my campaign’s intent was to make sure that serious issues like jobs, the economy and health care were not cast aside by my opponent’s negative attacks on my wife and her painful family crisis. ... I am happy to address this issue, as I have in the past, and had always expected Mr. Tisei to make it his central theme of the debate.”
One of Tierney’s brothers-in-law has been convicted of racketeering and other charges, while the other brother-in-law is on the lam, both in connection to their multimillion illegal gambling enterprise in Antigua. Tierney’s wife, Patrice, went to jail for a month last year after pleading guilty to helping one of her brothers file faulty tax returns.
Tierney held an hourlong press conference in Salem on the topic in July.
The Salem News, which is sponsoring a debate Oct. 10, did not receive any special requests from either candidate, and all three candidates — including Libertarian Daniel Fishman — agreed to the proposed format without complaint.
Tisei hammered Tierney after an initial news report in the Boston Herald in which two organizers said Tierney’s camp had requested to limit the debate to policy. Tisei reacted to Tierney’s call for family questions yesterday by slamming the congressman’s integrity.