Walk into Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s 20th-floor office, and the first thing you will notice is the view. Two walls of nearly all-glass flank the wooden desk where Healey signs papers, reads, and responds to correspondence that pours into her office, via snail- and electronic-mail, from people around the country.
“I feel a real sense of calm and peace,” Healey says of the vista of sky and city.
Look slightly down, and there is the gleaming golden dome of the State House. A little further, Boston Common, covered this warm February day by crowds waiting for the start of the Patriots Super Bowl victory parade. In the other direction, an icy Charles River stretches out, and, beyond, the innovation hub of Cambridge’s Kendall Square.
One of the state’s most popular politicians — in November she easily won a second term — Healey has made a national name for herself with a series of high-profile lawsuits against the Trump administration, as well as major corporations, including Uber, ExxonMobil, and OxyContin’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, and members of the Sackler family, who control it.
High up in the John W. McCormack building at One Ashburton Place, Healey’s office reflects her “minimalist” preferences. It is neat and uncluttered. When she arrived on the job in 2015, the office was all heavy wood and dark colors, Healey recalled. “I was like, ‘We’re done. Get it out of here.’”
Still, the curated items in her tidy office offer glimpses of what it’s like to be the “people’s lawyer.” Here are a few of them:
Her desk. It’s one of few items she kept from the office’s previous furnishings. The wooden desk was given to former Massachusetts attorney general Frank Bellotti — the longest-serving attorney general in the Commonwealth’s history — by the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce. “My family is originally from Newburyport, “ Healey says, “and I felt I should keep it.”
A laptop sits to one side, but Healey rarely uses it because so much is done via her smartphone. Part of what she does here: reads and responds to e-mails, letters, and postcards — which have grown in popularity since President Trump’s election — that come in every day and are organized by an assistant. A sampling includes a handwritten letter from a mother who lost her son to an opioid overdose, after he became addicted to post-surgery pain medication; a note, written in blue crayon, from a 4-year-old girl that starts, “I dreamed about you.” There’s an addendum from her parents explaining the girl was excited to learn about “the woman who is the ‘boss of the lawyers.’ ”
Amid the regular jumble of pens and pads in one of the desk’s shallow drawers is a small white plastic pitchfork-shaped vessel of Narcan, the fast-acting overdose-reversing drug.
It’s a symbol of the magnitude of what Healey, and others, are trying to tackle. “Everybody in my office has Narcan,” she says.
Portraits of two mentors. They hang on a wall across from Healey’s desk and depict well-known federal district court judges — A. David Mazzone and Reginald Lindsay, for whom she once worked. Mazzone oversaw the cleanup of Boston Harbor. Lindsay found the FBI liable for the deaths of several men at the hands of gangster James “Whitey’’ Bulger. Lindsay, who grew up black in the segregated South and spent the latter half of his life in a wheelchair, helped inspire her own civil rights work, Healey says. The placement of the pictures “is very intentional,” she says. “Each day I’m reminded about what it means to be a lawyer, what it means to be attorney general, what you’re responsibility is to look after people, to protect people, to uphold the Constitution. These were really wonderful public servants and they inspired me in part to do this work. I miss them terribly.”
A pair of bright pink plastic flamingos. The lawn ornaments peek out from behind a tall majesty palm, which Healey bought at Home Depot when she moved into the office. They’re a gift from the owner of Leominster-based United Solutions, made from the original molds that created the first lawn flamingos in the 1950s. They’re one of many souvenirs she’s collected in her regular work travel. “This is a statewide office,” she says, noting that the attorney general has “active and robust” offices in Worcester, Springfield, and New Bedford. “Our cases and investigations touch families and issues across the state. So I spend a lot of time on the road.”
A bunch of basketballs. Only one basketball is immediately visible, perched atop a bookcase, but it’s special – signed in silver pen by Celtics legend Bob Cousy. Growing up, Cousy was her “hero,” because he is “the best point guard of all time,” says Healey. She always wore number 14, Cousy’s number, throughout her own basketball career, which started in youth league. Healey went on to be co-captain on the varsity women’s basketball team at Harvard and played professionally in Austria after college.
Cousy endorsed Healey in her 2014 campaign — there’s that number 14 again — for her current job. “It was very serendipitous,” she says. The ball was a gift from a supporter.
A cabinet in the bottom of the bookcase holds six more basketballs, each a memento from a visit or event. One bears black Sharpie signatures from kids at a Boys & Girls Club.
“I’ve got a whole stash of these elsewhere in the office,” she adds. “People give me basketballs everywhere and ask me to spin basketballs all the time.”Victoria McGrane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @vgmac.