By Bob Katzen
A ruling by Superior Court Judge Robert Gordon last week has cleared Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi to register as a lobbyist. The ruling overturns a March 2019 ruling by Secretary of State Bill Galvin that denied DiMasi the right to register as a lobbyist because of his conviction on federal criminal charges of accepting $57,000 in illegal payments in exchange for helping a private company be awarded a state software contract. DiMasi served five years in prison until his compassionate release to fight his throat cancer in 2016.
Galvin’s denial of DiMasi’s application was based on a 2009 law that calls for anyone found to be in violation of state ethics, lobbying or campaign finance laws to be disqualified from lobbying for 10 years. Gordon ruled that the law does not apply to DiMasi because DiMasi’s conviction on federal bribery charges was not cited in the 2009 law. Gordon opined that if the Legislature’s intent was to make a conviction on federal criminal charges grounds for automatic disqualification from lobbying for 10 years, it should have explicitly said that in the 2009 law.
“We are gratified by today’s decision, which adopts our ‘common-sense construction’ of the Lobbying Law,” said Meredith Fierro, DiMasi’s attorney. “As we have said from the beginning, the secretary did not have authority to disqualify Mr. DiMasi from registering as a lobbyist. Mr. DiMasi looks forward to using his knowledge and experience to advocate for important causes such as healthcare for the homeless and prison reform.”
Galvin has not given up. “This decision sets a very bad precedent and I will be appealing it,” he said.