To the editor: Pittsfield City Councilor Helen Moon reportedly told a WAMC reporter that Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington offered her "the equivalent" of $4,200 or $4,300 in exchange for a nondisclosure agreement as she exited the DA's Office.
Moon said she declined the offer.
Assuming this account is accurate, one wonders: On what legitimate grounds does a public official try to extract a vow of silence from a terminated employee? Where is the public interest or benefit in such an exchange? From whose pockets would this proffered pay-off be paid? The taxpayers'? Campaign contributors'?
Two people benefit from such a deal: The public official looking to evade public scrutiny of bad management or worse, and the departing employee, in this case the district attorney and her former campaign manager, then and now herself a public official, who was also, not coincidentally and by her own account, a close friend and virtual family member of the district attorney.
What does the district attorney's offer say about her personal ethics and her understanding of the line between the public interest and her own ambitions?
Jeanne M. Kempthorne, Pittsfield
The writer resigned in January 2020 from her post as general counsel and public records officer for the Berkshire District Attorney's Office.