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Keller @ Large: Coakley Lashes Out Over New Attack Ad

BOSTON (CBS) - There's a controversial new TV ad drawing fire in the race for Massachusetts governor.

Paid for by a Republican super PAC, the commercial criticizes Democrat Martha Coakley for fighting a lawsuit against the state aimed at reforming the Department of Children and Families. Republican Charlie Baker says he doesn't like the tone of the ad, but agrees with its indictment of Coakley's work.

Coakley described the ad as, "misleading, deceitful, over the top, disgusting."

Attorney General Martha Coakley is furious about the attack ad accusing her of enabling DCF incompetence by deciding to fight a lawsuit from a national group pressing for child-protection reforms.

The ad states that, "Coakley defended the agency's actions, opposed reform, and tried to silence children's advocates."

Coakley responded by saying, "the people bringing the suit were wrong." On Thursday, she assembled a crowd of child-protection advocates to testify to her commitment, and even choked up at one point as she recalled a recent encounter with a woman she had once helped.

"She said I still have nightmares, but I came to thank you today. That's why I do this work," Coakley said.

Charlie Baker also got emotional as he recounted the evidence presented in that 2010 lawsuit, a blueprint of the systemic failures that would lead to the death of Jeremiah Oliver and several other children under DCF oversight.

"I've read that brief, and as a father of three kids I'll tell you that brief is really something," Baker said. "I think the Attorney General certainly had an opportunity to recommend moving toward settlement and fixing what was broken in the agency."

Keller showed the ad to former state Inspector General Greg Sullivan, now with the Pioneer Institute, who has followed the lawsuit closely.

"There's bipartisan blame because the system deteriorated over many years," Sullivan said. "Massachusetts argued that the problems at DCF weren't enough to shock the conscience, that's the legal standard. But I think most people would think that the problems there do."

On Thursday, Coakley called the group that brought the lawsuit, Children's Rights, a bunch of lawyers looking to wring fat fees out of target states. But Massachusetts is one of just a handful of targeted states with deeply-flawed child protection systems still fighting the suit.


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