The most odious aspect of disgraced House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi’s angling to become a Beacon Hill lobbyist is hard to judge. Could it be that DiMasi, having served five years of an eight-year prison term on federal corruption charges, now presumes to return to the scene of his crimes? Maybe it’s that DiMasi, having twice been rejected for lobbyist credentials, is now expected to take his case to court.
Either way, the last in a trio of convicted Democratic speakers should take a hint that he is persona non grata in the people’s house, as either an elected member or in the ranks of lobbyists who make their livings bending ears, convincing and cajoling.
DiMasi, who spent 30 years in the Legislature, the last five as speaker, faced a nine-count indictment in June 2009 for taking kickbacks in exchange for helping win multi-million dollar contracts for the software company Cognos. He was convicted two years later and sent to prison for eight years but was freed early on a medical release in light of a cancer diagnosis.
DiMasi last spring filed papers to become a lobbyist, which Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin rightly rejected. A hearing officer heard his appeal and ruled the day after Christmas that Galvin was within his rights to refuse DiMasi.
The legal point of contention is a state law banishing anyone found violating ethics, lobbying or campaign laws from working as a lobbyist for 10 years, according to a State House News Service report. DiMasi’s lawyer argues he doesn’t fit the description since he was convicted of federal -- not state -- crimes.
Peter Cassidy, who works in Galvin’s Securities Division and reviewed the case, rejected that self-serving twist. According to the News Service’s account, Cassidy explained, “The lobbying law is designed to protect the integrity of legislative process, public resources and citizens’ trust in their government from the effects of dishonesty and abuse in lobbying.”
Clearly that would be undermined by letting DiMasi roam the halls of the Statehouse. If there’s a question here, it’s why the law only keeps him and those of his ilk at bay for 10 years and not a lifetime.