• Not first time in spotlight for new DCF head

    By Kevin Rothstein and Mike Beaudet

    FOX UNDERCOVER (MyFoxBoston.com) -- For most people, Erin Deveney, the new head of the embattled Mass. Department of Children and Families, is an unfamiliar face. But she's worked in state government for years, moving over to DCF as a deputy commissioner last month.

    She spent much of her government career at the Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles, and that's where she became the subject of a FOX Undercover investigation, 10 years ago. Deveney was the general counsel, and FOX Undercover asked her about her connections to her former boss, outspoken state Rep. James Fagan.

    It was 2004, the year before the passage of Melanie’s Law, which cracked down on drunk drivers. FOX Undercover was investigating repeat drunk drivers getting back on the road, in some cases because of mistakes by the RMV.

    Fagan, in addition to being a Democratic state representative from Taunton, was also an attorney who had defended more than 1,000 drunk drivers. He was a fierce opponent of anti-drunk driving laws.

    Deveney used to work for him as a State House aide. She continued to support him politically, donating hundreds of dollars to his campaign, most recently in 2010, the year he lost his House seat.

    “How does it look when a top official at the Registry of Motor Vehicles is supporting a leading opponent of drunk driving legislation?” FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet asked her in 2004.

    “I appreciate my job. I take my job very seriously. And Rep. Fagan doesn't necessarily like when I take somebody's license,” Deveney replied. “Rep. Fagan isn't Registrar Fagan and he doesn't dictate how this agency is, nor has he ever attempted to in his personal, professional or political capacity.”

    “But you got to admit, come on, it doesn't look good,” Beaudet asked her.

    At that point a spokesperson for the RMV interrupted the interview.

    “Actually, I don't really see what this has to do with the interview that we promised you. I think we should give Erin a break,” she said. “I think that the Fagan stuff is, I think that's out of line.”

    “You don't think it's a fair question?” Beaudet asked.

    “It does not surprise me,” Deveney said. “Certainly he understands and I understand that he's an elected official. He's a defense attorney and people have stereotypically considered that compromises his ability to address…”

    Deveney was then cut off by the press aide.

    “You don't even need to answer this. You don't. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth that this is going in this direction. You don't need to defend yourself Erin. You've given a good interview,” she said.

    Now, Deveney won’t have that public relations protector by her side at DCF, but her former colleagues, who give her high marks, believe she’ll be just fine.

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