Former Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi Can Be a Lobbyist: SJC
Massachusetts' highest court has spoken: former State House Speaker and convicted felon Salvatore DiMasi can be a lobbyist on Beacon Hill.
The state Supreme Judicial Court upheld in a Jan. 5 decision DiMasi's appeal of Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin's automatic rejection of his application.
This despite the former speaker serving several years in prison on federal corruption charges.
DiMasi has been registered as a lobbyist since 2020 after a lower court allowed it, according to a spokesperson from Galvin's office.
His application to lobby the state's legislature had previously been denied by Galvin in 2019 due to a Massachusetts law prohibiting certain felons from applying.
DiMasi has also registered as a lobbyist with Boston's City Hall, according to the Boston Globe.
In the SJC decision, the justices stated that Galvin did not have the authority to disqualify DiMasi from applying.
This is because the Massachusetts law automatically disqualifying felons from lobbying apparently does not apply to those convicted of federal offenses, which is a separate jurisdiction, according to the SJC.
Instead, they wrote, state lawmakers who created the law in 2009 specifically approved legislation with a narrow reach.
"A member of the House proposed legislation that automatically would have disqualified all felons from registering as lobbyists, regardless of the jurisdiction of their felony convictions," the SJC noted. "This bill was not taken up by the House."
But the justices also said the secretary doesn't need to rely on disqualification to prevent corrupt individuals from registering as lobbyists.
If an applicant has federal convictions, according to the SJC, "the Secretary can initiate proceedings and suspend or revoke the individual's lobbyist license and registration."