Ex-DA Rachael Rollins spent lavishly on food using taxpayer-paid credit card


As DA, Rachael Rollins used her taxpayer-funded credit card at fancy restaurants from Newbury Street to New York in what appears to be a blatant violation of state guidelines, a Herald analysis shows.

The city’s one-time top prosecutor – forced to resign her post as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts last spring under an explosive ethics cloud – pursued a tour of top eateries that foodies would envy.

In one week in June of 2021, she spent $115.23 at the Atlantic Fish Company in the Back Bay, $156.54 at Davio’s in the North End, and $195.82 at the Salty Dog in Faneuil Hall, where oysters are “shucked to order,”  according to credit card statements obtained through a public records request.

The receipts show that she spent $128.79 at Sonsie, an “enduring, classy bistro” on Newbury Street, and $93.58 at the “Spanish-centric” Barcelona Wine Bar on Tremont Street.

In November of 2021, Rollins had dinner at the Merchants River House in New York City, which boasted of “views of the Statute of Liberty,” where she dropped $226.18 and stayed at the New York Marriott Downtown, billing taxpayers $331.68. Her Uber bill for that junket was roughly $130 – all paid for by Suffolk County residents on a Bank of America card.

Earlier that fall, records show she plunked her P-card down for $423.84 at Felice in NYC, a chain “inspired by the spirit … and wines of Tuscany.”

Her bill shows that she also spent $166 and then $500 at The Sole Proprietor in Worcester in a six-day span in late 2021. No reason is given on any statements, and Rollins has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

She also used the P-card, a state-issued “procurement card,” that December at Jersey Mike’s in Los Angeles, billing $16.97. Again, no reason.

According to an analysis of 70 entries for food or coffee, Rollins also logged minuscule expenditures at Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Five Guys, McDonald’s, the Falafel King, pizza joints, breakfast nooks, and Uber Eats.

All this while being paid $190,999 as DA, state Comptroller payroll records state.

P-card guidance from the Comptroller’s office used by DAs statewide declares cards “shall not be used” for the “cost of meals, snacks or coffee.” Alcohol is also forbidden, but Rollins’ monthly credit card statements do not say if she did or did not bill for booze.

The guidance does add state employees should repay for personal expenditures, and Rollins did abide – once for $20 for an undisclosed “personal item,” the Herald’s records search found.

All these dinners on the public’s dime have left a bad taste for fiscal watchdogs.

“It’s astonishing that someone entrusted to uphold the law could seemingly disregard policy,” said Mary Connaughton, Pioneer Institute’s chief operation officer. “The jaw-dropping bills she racked up warrant an investigation to determine if any taxpayer funds should be reimbursed to the state.”

Suffolk DA Kevin Hayden’s office declined to comment.

The Herald has also learned that during his 17 years as Suffolk DA, Dan Conley never had a state-issued credit card.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, said in a statement Friday that “district attorneys, and all public officials, have solemn duties to serve the public and, particularly, to be responsible stewards of the people’s resources.”

When it comes to dinners out, many politicians told the Herald they use campaign finance funds if they must and not the taxpayer-paid P-cards.

Rollins had $53,640 in campaign cash as of April 2, according to state records. She spent $2,810 in March, donating $1,000 to Girls on the Run Greater Boston and $1,500 to Project R.I.G.H.T. Inc, according to her filings.

The former U.S. attorney also spent $1,775 from her campaign account in February, including a $1,500 donation to the Dorchester Eagles, a local youth football team, records show.

Stanford University Law Professor George Fisher told the Herald that prosecutors “must maintain ethical standards” and not only “obey the law, but guidelines to avoid any appearance of impropriety.” The one-time Massachusetts assistant attorney general, declining to speak directly about Rollins’ restaurant bills, did stress that “restraint” should be the hallmark of any prosecutor’s office.

Rollins is now working for Roxbury Community College in a part-time post that pays her $80,000 annually. A spokesperson for the college did not say if Rollins has a P-card for that job, emailing that, “at this time, Roxbury Community College is not responding to media inquiries regarding Rachael Rollins.”

Rollins, who just won her law license back last week, was the Suffolk district attorney from January 2019 until being sworn in as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts on Jan. 10, 2022 — with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. She resigned on May 19, 2023, following two scathing Department of Justice reports on her rocky tenure, where she was accused of trying to influence the outcome of the Suffolk DA’s race and attended a DNC fund-raiser in Andover in a possible ethics violation.

In all, her credit card records list “total activity” at $19,163. It’s not clear if some of that was for office use, with one entry for $200 at Allston Car Wash and others from airlines to Amazon.com.

The Herald’s Chris Van Buskirk contributed.



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