“You can run, but you can’t hide,”
By 2009 the town was in open rebellion. That October, fishermen marched on NOAA’s Gloucester headquarters, a sparkling modern glass cube, and erected a float showing Jane Lubchenco, the chief of NOAA, lynching two fishermen in yellow-and-orange rain jackets. At Lubchenco’s urging, regulators had voted to implement catch shares for groundfish, a kind of cap-and-trade system for fishing. Gloucester fishermen felt the program would make it even harder for small boats to eke out a living.
Their anger was also directed at Andy Cohen. The local newspaper was squarely in the corner of the fishermen. Richard Gaines, a reporter with the Gloucester Daily Times, had been printing a stream of articles that lambasted NOAA enforcement and later questioned whether Cohen had improperly used his government-issued cell phone as his contact for an EBay (EBAY) auction. “You can run, but you can’t hide,” Gaines wrote to Cohen in an e-mail.
Ciulla’s former lawyer, Ann-Margaret Ferrante, was now a Massachusetts state representative, and she played a political card. At the urging of Ferrante and her statehouse colleagues, Tierney and four other members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, including Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry, drafted a letter to Lubchenco demanding an investigation into Cohen’s office. “There is the appearance among fishermen that the federal government is being heavy-handed,” they wrote. “The current level of mistrust between the industry and [NOAA] is now at an all-time high.”
On Mar. 2, 2010, inside Gloucester’s red-brick city hall, Dale Jones, Cohen’s boss, sat crossing and recrossing his hands as the congressmen grilled him about two reports from the Commerce Dept.’s Inspector General. The reports described overzealous enforcement in Cohen’s office, stiff penalties from Chuck Juliand’s office, and lax accounting practices in a slush fund obtained from fishermen’s fines and used to pay for equipment and travel. It was a stinging public rebuke. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), then chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subcommittee on domestic policy, asked Jones whether specific individuals would be disciplined over the reports. “You repeatedly say you’ve looked at it, you’ve studied it, but do you get it?” Kucinich barked at Jones. At another point in the hearing, the congressman wanted to know what Jones really thought of fishermen, asking him whether he thought fishermen were “criminals.”