WORCESTER – Vowing to make progressive reforms and increase transparency, former Worcester prosecutor Blake J. Rubin Wednesday announced he will run for Worcester district attorney in 2018.
“Attorney Rubin will transform the culture of the district attorney’s office into one of complete transparency, where prosecutors will always be available to explain their actions and all parties will be treated equally and fairly,” Mr. Rubin’s campaign wrote in a news release.
In an interview at his Main Street office Wednesday evening, Mr. Rubin, 51, said promoting transparency and reforming prosecution of nonviolent drug offenders will be cornerstones of his platform.
The Holden resident acknowledged the challenge of going up against District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., a three-term incumbent with broad political support and a $200,000 war chest, but said he believes the time is right for change.
“It’s time for a new face in that office,” said Mr. Rubin, who worked as a prosecutor there for nearly a decade, including under Mr. Early, until leaving in 2010.
Though his platform hinges on transparency, Mr. Rubin said a recent scandal that has thrust Mr. Early under the microscope was not a factor in his decision to run.
“I’ve been thinking of running for a number of years,” he said. With his three children now in or beyond high school, he said, now is the time.
Mr. Rubin’s announcement comes as Mr. Early faces allegations that someone at his office prompted state police to scrub embarrassing details from a police report about the arrest of Alli Bibaud, daughter of Dudley District Court Judge Timothy Bibaud.
The case prompted the retirement of state police Col. Richard D. McKeon Jr. and spawned two lawsuits from troopers incensed they were directed to alter, and in some cases destroy, records. The attorney for one of the troopers has signaled intent to amend his lawsuit to name members of the Worcester district attorney’s office.
Mr. Early, who has served as district attorney since 2006 and never faced a challenger for re-election, has declined requests for comment on the incident. An email sent to his office Wednesday seeking comment on Mr. Rubin’s announcement was not returned.
In his news release, Mr. Rubin calls himself a political outsider running as an independent who believes the district attorney’s office “should not be a partisan office.”
The release does not mention the Bibaud case, and Mr. Rubin hesitated to speak about it Wednesday. He pushed back against the notion that some people could see him as opportunistic, stressing that he’d like to win because of his own vision and qualifications.
“I do not want to be elected because they don’t want the current guy,” he said.
Mr. Rubin said if elected, a main focus would be to charge fewer people with nonviolent drug crimes, instead urging treatment. Doing so would save taxpayers money housing inmates and free prosecutors to focus more on violent crime, he said.
Mr. Rubin said he supports eliminating some mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug crimes – an idea Mr. Early has opposed – because he doesn’t believe in tying judge’s hands.
“Sometimes DA offices are concerned about leverage (over defendants),” he said, referencing a common argument against abolishing minimums. “I’m concerned about justice.”
Mr. Rubin proposed several policies he termed “progressive,” including not asking for bail for many low income people charged with minor crimes.
He said he’d like to try cases personally as district attorney – many district attorneys do not – and establish a citizen’s advisory board to promote transparency.
Such a board could help eliminate the appearance of insular decision-making, he said, and could also have a say in decisions like the disbursement of drug forfeiture money.
Mr. Rubin said members of the public wouldn’t have a say in active cases being prosecuted. But cases that have been prosecuted – particularly high profile ones – would be fair game for discussion and examination, he said.
Mr. Rubin said he’s tried more than 200 cases before juries in Massachusetts state and federal courts and served as an assistant district attorney for more than 16 years in Worcester, Suffolk and Hampden counties. He's served as a defense attorney the past several years, experience he says gives him a balanced perspective.
Mr. Rubin, who is married with three children, opened an account with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance Nov. 27. He has not yet declared any donations.
Mr. Early, whose war chest dates to 2000, had $213,543 as of Dec. 1. He's raised more than $26,000 since October, more than half his tally for the year. Donors during that period span a wide range of influence in the city, from politicians and police officers to prominent defense attorneys.
"Money doesn't vote, people vote," Mr. Rubin said when presented with the figures. "We're going to have to go door to door, town to town, and get people to vote.
"I feel people ultimately will vote for the best candidate, and I feel there’s no question I’m the best candidate.”