Letter: Thomas Hodgson, the chameleon sheriff

Posted 9/16/22

Whenever Sheriff Thomas Hodgson needs an infusion of media attention, or feels his job or popularity is at risk, he gloms  onto a person or issue that will satisfy his ego need, or as …

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Letter: Thomas Hodgson, the chameleon sheriff


Whenever Sheriff Thomas Hodgson needs an infusion of media attention, or feels his job or popularity is at risk, he gloms  onto a person or issue that will satisfy his ego need, or as recently reported, to insure his re-election.

In his early years as sheriff he tried to emulate the antics of Arizona  Sheriff Joe Arapaio by degrading and penalizing the incarcerated. Failing to institute fees and chain gangs, by reason of court  orders and public outcries, Hodgson then  tried to soften his to tough guy image by donating turkeys to the Portuguese immigrants who had been deported to the Azores. That project failed when one of the sheriff’s employees ,and some associates, were implicated in money laundering.

Finally, Hodgson found his glorifying stature  by becoming a right wing media darling by declaring that he would protect his community from undocumented immigrants.  Proclaiming unproven and mythological threats of marauding immigrants he garnered national attention,  and received  invitations to join, or be an advisory board member of , various white nationalist and racist organizations .

To enhance that new fame as a staunch anti-immigrant sheriff he contracted with the federal government to detain immigrants and ultimately to act as agents for Homeland Security.

To show his fealty and dedication to newly elected President Trump, Hodgson offered to send his incarcerated people to help build the wall.  When that publicity generating gesture infuriated so many Massachusetts residents and legislators,  Hodgson had to retreat and find another activity. And so he became a sleuth on behalf of presidential advisor Stephen Miller to uncover Catholic Churches that might be informing immigrants of their legal rights .  He also suggested to Miller that he could possibly divert funds owed to the Massachusetts treasury to help in the administration’s anti-immigrant crusade.

When local clergymen were apprised of his emails to Miller , they resoundingly criticized him in a letter printed in the local newspapers.  And when Suzanne Bump, State Auditor, discovered an unreported $350,000.00 paid to the sheriff per the contract with ICE, he found the missing funds and remitted them to the state treasury.

And that seemed to end and yet another disreputable scheme.

During the worst period of the Covid pandemic Hodgson was sued by detained immigrants for alleged violations of their constitutional rights.  After receiving very negative press coverage and a scathing condemnation in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s inspection report, which prompted the new administration to cancel all contracts he had with Homeland Security, he again changed course and commenced offering to assist the community with Covid sniffing dogs in the schools and long overdue programs for the children of the incarcerated.

Under the radar, and probably concerned how this might hinder  his re-election chances, Hodgson has allied himself with organization that are threatening to seize voting machines and interfere with the upcoming elections.

If Hodgson is re-elected, the threat will go far beyond the incarcerated, his employees, undocumented immigrants, but to legitimate voters everywhere.

Betty Ussach


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.