In the end, it seems to me that an argument could be made that Tisei should have renounced his claim to half of the house. It was, after all, the result of an unintended clerical error. He had paid nothing for it. He knew that, by taking the money, he was denying it to people whom his parents had been judged to have wronged.
Tisei, in other words, knew exactly how he was benefitting, and at whose expense. He also knew what wrongdoing his parents were found to have done.
Tierney, by contrast, has not been shown to have known that his wife was accepting money from her brothers, or that he knew the brothers were engaged in wrongdoing until charges were later brought against them.
Tisei rejects any comparison with Tierney's association with his brothers-in-law, who he says were known criminals.
He may be right, and the comparison may be a stretch.
But I think there is something similar, too. Tisei seems like he didn't want to get involved in the dealings of his father, who separated from Beverly Tisei in 1991 — any more than Tierney wanted to get involved in the dealings of his new in-laws, after he married Patrice in 1997.
The two experiences could be apples and oranges.
But those fruits might both look familiar to many voters, who will ultimately be the judge.
To read the Talking Politics blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. David S. Bernstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dbernstein.