Rep. Birmingham defended his friend Daniel H. Coakley of Brighton as an outstanding citizen of the Massachusetts who is loyal to the Democratic party and the people of the state, the Boston Herald reported (April 2, 1931, p. 2 via Genealogy Bank).
Birmingham’s defense was in response to an attack by Rep. Timothy J. Cronin, a Democrat from Cambridge, who called Coakley a “gang man dictating the votes of a large group of legislators” and a "wrecker of young men’s lives” by his “sinister operations,” the paper reported.
The controversy surrounding Coakley emerged during April 1 House debate over the Lehan bill, which would have permitted Mayor Richard M. Russell of Cambridge to fire City Treasurer Henry F. Lehan. The bill was overwhelmingly defeated by the House. Lehan was a holdover from the previous administration against the recommendation of the mayor.
Coakley "could poll a scant 2,000 votes in an election for mayor of Boston and yet has sufficient influence to dictate to the House of Representatives,” said Cronin. He added that he and his wife had received threats over the telephone and charged that Coakley, who opposed the bill, was behind the threats.
Birmingham said he regretted that Coakley had been dragged into the debate and said that he had never been asked by Coakley to deviate from the honest and honorable performance of his duties.
Birmingham said he voted against the bill because it was special legislation introduced into the legislature to settle a local political fight.