During the 1988 presidential campaign, Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis was accused by Christians in the Republican Party of having appointed an “official state witch” while he was governor of Massachusetts. The Dukakis camp categorically denied these charges.
Did Michael Dukakis appoint an “official witch” of Massachusetts? One spokesperson for the Salem Chamber of Commerce confirmed the allegations, agreeing that Cabot was the official, state-designated witch of Salem. The city of Salem capitalizes on the “officiality” of Cabot because it draws tourism to the area. Each October, for example, the Chamber of Commerce sponsors a month of so-called “Haunted Happenings,” that last until Halloween. In the past, that celebration has included a public seance. Another spokesperson at the Salem Chamber of Commerce defended Cabot: “She’s very popular and a very nice person.” Cabot is reported to be a noteworthy citizen because of all the beneficial things she has done for the community such as her work with dyslexic children.
However, an employee of Cabot’s store in Salem commented: “If we do that [help dyslexic children] you can find out about it by writing the Witches’ League for Public Awareness.” Apparently any “community service” that Laurie Cabot is offering has been in obvious connection to her witchcraft. She also stated Cabot’s organization, the Witches’ League for Public Awareness, is attempting to link witches together from all over the nation. Rev. Russel Ely, pastor of the Salem Christian Assembly, has had numerous confrontations with Cabot and other witches in Salem. “Laurie Cabot is serious about her witchcraft. She’s also a serious businesswoman. In fact, she tells people that she is ‘the American dream’ because of her financial success.”
A Salem city official, who wished to remain anonymous, set the record straight by researching the records of City Council meetings. According to those notes, Laurie Cabot came to the mayor of Salem and requested that she be made the official city witch and “greeter.” The Council discussed the issue, and in April of 1977 released a statement maintaining that they did not want “any person or spirit” to be the official witch of Salem. A letter was even sent to the office of Governor Michael Dukakis in Boston to express the decision of the City Council.
Cabot then bypassed the council decision and, with the help of a state representative, Elaine Noble, went directly to the governor. The Salem Evening News, on April 28, 1977, ran an article with the headline, “Governor Dukakis Unwittingly Gives ‘Witch’ Her Wish.” The story stated: “This week Ms. Cabot apparently worked her magic on Governor Dukakis, and he unwittingly did for Ms. Cabot what Salem mayors and councils have refused repeatedly.”
Yankee magazine [October 1986] ran a story entitled “Why Salem Is in Love with Witches.” The article, in describing the meeting between Dukakis and Cabot, seemed to suggest that an appointment had been made. “The petition [to make Cabot official] found its way to Governor Dukakis, who, against the wishes of Salem’s mayor at the time, appointed Cabot Salem’s official witch and gave her a citation to boot.”
“An ‘Official’ Witch? Recognition of Laurie Cabot Poses Problems for Dukakis,” The Forerunner, October 1988, p.22.