Politics

Republican congressman confronts Marty Walsh over Dennis White controversy

“I didn’t ignore anything," Walsh said.

Marty Walsh speaks during a news conference last month after touring the construction site atop the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The questions about Marty Walsh’s appointment of former Boston police commissioner Dennis White are now getting asked by the Democratic cabinet official’s opponents in Washington, D.C.

During a congressional hearing Wednesday focused on economic policy, Walsh was pressed on the off-topic subject by Rep. Bob Good, a Virginia Republican, who asked the former Boston mayor-turned-labor secretary if he should resign, “given the fact that you seemed to ignore the critical information and appointed a person with a documented violent history to the highest rank of the police department.”

“I didn’t ignore anything,” Walsh said, reiterating that he didn’t know about the domestic abuse allegations against White when he appointed the longtime cop to replace William Gross as the city’s police commissioner.

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“I didn’t. I wasn’t aware of the situation until, quite honestly, after I appointed him and it was pointed out to me in the in the newspaper.”

Days after the appointment, Walsh placed White on administrative leave after The Boston Globe raised questions about the decades-old allegations and restraining order against White by his former wife. This week, after a court battle, Acting Mayor Kim Janey fired White as police commissioner.

Good referenced court documents in which both Gross and White said that Walsh should have been informed of the allegations against White, who has denied most of the claims but admitted that arguments with his former wife at times escalated into physical fighting in the 1990s.

However, Walsh said Wednesday that Gross’s sworn affidavit — which said the then-mayor was briefed on White’s internal affairs history in 2014, but did not specify by whom — “never clearly stated that I got the file.”

“I never received the file on Dennis White,” Walsh told Good.

The congressman, however, also noted that White personally swore that he had talked to Walsh over the past seven years “about my divorce and the things that I went through,” including that he “had a restraining order put on me with false allegations I tried to shoot somebody.” Walsh’s advisers have denied White’s claim.

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“You’re asserting that Mr. White is lying with that sworn statement?” Good asked.

Walsh didn’t explicitly go that far, but he did argue that White’s recollection, which didn’t cite a particular conversation or date, lacked specificity.

“If you go back and look at the sworn statement in the context that it was spoken and written, it’s not that clear,” he said.

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