Boston Official Arrested In Union Extortion Case

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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Federal officials arrested an aide to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh at his home Thursday for allegedly extorting a local music festival into hiring unionized workers.

Kenneth Brissette oversaw tourism, sports, and entertainment in Boston for the mayor. He was arrested by federal officials for allegedly withholding city permits unless Boston Calling hired union stagehands for its music festival. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz notes Brissette allegedly withheld permits between July and September 2014 while telling the company it had to hire union workers.

“While the company was awaiting the issuance of certain permits and approvals required for its music festival, Brissette, and at least one other city official, repeatedly advised the company that it would need to hire members of Local 11,” Ortiz said in a statement to The Boston Globe. “Three days before the music festival the company entered into a contract with Local 11.”

Ortiz declined to name the other city official who allegedly assisted Brissette. Boston Calling hired an additional eight union stagehands and a foreman as part of the contract. Federal investigators also accused Brissette of warning restaurants that Teamsters would disrupt the filming of the “Top Chef” television show because the production crew would not hire union members.

Walsh and other city officials have been the subjects on an ongoing federal probe over possible union extortion. Walsh allegedly threatened companies that sought to hire nonunion workers before becoming mayor. He served as secretary-treasurer for the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council at the time.

Walsh was accused April 24 of allegedly telling another union official in 2012 that he threatened a company that wanted to hire nonunion workers. Walsh denied the accusations, and added his primary job for the union was to promote job growth. Federal investigators have issued subpoenas to union leaders, developers, and city hall staffers.

Walsh, Boston Calling and Local 11  did not respond to requests for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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