It’s been a grinding, brutal campaign for the beleaguered congressman seated across the table.
John Tierney, who has represented the area in Congress for 16 years, feels railroaded, frustrated and tired of defending himself and his wife from a gambling scandal that has dogged them both for two years. So much so that, if he’d known, he’s not sure he would have run again.
“I didn’t know there would be $4 million spent attacking my wife when my opponent originally said he didn’t want to make family an issue,” Tierney said during a recent interview in a Salem coffee shop. “If I’d anticipated that millions would be spent to run this kind of nasty campaign, I would say it just wasn’t worth putting my wife through that.”
His wife, Patrice, spent a month in jail last year after admitting to being “willfully blind” to the true nature of her brother’s gambling business in Antigua and to helping him file false tax returns.
The congressman says neither of them knew the gambling business was illegal, and that his wife was trying to help her shattered family by using her brother’s money — up to $7 million funneled through a Salem bank account — to pay his mortgage and taxes and look after his children, his unwell mother and his estranged wife.
In return, prosecutors say, her brother gave her some $200,000 in gifts over the years.
Tierney has said his brother-in-law, who’d had legal problems before, had permission from the court to return to work in Antigua, at a position that everyone seemed to think at the time was a legal gambling business — so how could he or his wife have known? He speaks endearingly and lovingly of his wife, and he is very protective. When a reporter points out that he has never had an opportunity to interview Patrice, the congressman says, “And you never will, either.”