To be fair, Curley’s first fraud conviction was for taking a civil service exam for someone else. His Irish constituents saw the “progressive” reforms and “good government” initiatives of the era for what they were, an attempt by the traditional elites of Boston to keep control of governance when they no longer had the numbers to do so democratically. “Honest graft” is when you give the roofing contract to Irish contractors without a bid and accept some gifts in return. Since the WASPs own the banks, they can do the same thing with a lot more paperwork.
“Should a man be denied a chance to carry letters simply because he can’t spell ‘Hippopotamus’”? — James Michael Curley
(NB: This quotation is almost entirely made up. When it comes to falsely attributing things to Curley I don’t feel bad)
I am no fan of Curley. He ultimately was bad for Boston, and his anti-progressive race baiting is partly what created the state you are, rightfully, deriding here, but I think the rot goes deeper than him.