THE RETIRING executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation on Thursday accused Gov. Charlie Baker of cowardice in withdrawing his bid to pardon Gerald Amirault and Cheryl Amirault LeFave, who were convicted in a high-profile child sexual abuse case at the Fells Acre Day Care Center in Malden in 1984.

Baker on November 18 sought a pardon for the brother and sister, who have always professed their innocence, but withdrew his bid on Wednesday after several members of the Governor’s Council indicated they would not approve his request.

“Shame on him,’ said Chip Ford, the executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

“He should have called their bluff, or put the Governor’s Council on record, not blink first,” said Ford. “There was no reason why he would withdraw that except cowardice.”

Ford’s comments on the Amirault case overshadowed the central message of a virtual press conference he called – to announce Citizens for Limited Taxation was shutting down after 48 years and to urge  the organization’s followers, which he said numbered 1,500, to join forces with the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.

Ford, who now lives in Kentucky, said he is confident the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance would carry on the fight to protect Proposition 2 ½, to thwart any efforts to change the 1986 tax cap law that returned $3 billion to taxpayers this year, and to press for new tax cuts.

Ford brought up the Amirault case toward the end of his press conference, clearly angry with Baker’s decision to drop his bid for a pardon. Amirault worked for Citizens for Limited Taxation briefly after he was released from prison on parole in 2004 and clearing his name was a high priority for the orgazation.

Several members of the Governor’s Council questioned why Baker would back a pardon when his own Advisory Board  of Pardons opposed it.

Ford pointed to a newspaper column written by his predecessor, Barbara Anderson, who died in 2016. The January 22, 2015 column said Baker’s father was the first to offer help in finding a job for Gerald Amirault. The column said Baker himself pledged to move for a pardon if he was elected governor after meeting Gerald Amirault and his daughter on the campaign trail. Baker’s opponent at the time was Martha Coakley, one of Amirault’s prosecutors.