By Jim Smith
BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly announced earlier this week that he will defend State Sen. Stephen Lynch and Rep. John Hart against a federal lawsuit that alleges they conspired with city officials to direct housing funds to the mostly white, Irish-American enclave of South Boston at the expense of the city’s minority neighborhoods.
The suit claims that South Boston politicians, including City Council President James Kelly, violated federal civil rights laws when they entered into a memorandum of understanding with city officials under which South Boston would receive 51 percent of so-called "linkage funds," which is the money paid by developers toward a public fund used to build affordable housing units in the city.
The memorandum of understanding was hammered out in 1998 between city officials and South Boston leaders in exchange for the residents’ acceptance of the construction of a $700 million Boston Convention Center and related waterfront development in their neighborhood.
Kelly, who has described the lawsuit as "frivolous" and "racist,’ already has a legal defense team in place, which will be paid for by the city.
Reilly said that, while he has no intention of defending the agreement itself, he feels compelled to defend the politicians who entered into it. "We’re going to strongly support and defend the principle that legislators be able to advocate for their communities," he said.
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