FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 29, 2015
617-523-5005 ext. 245
“Speaker DeLeo’s about-face is yet another example of Democrats on Beacon Hill changing the rules for their own self-interest…”
In reversal, Robert DeLeo opposes term limit
By Jim O’Sullivan
“Speaker Robert A. DeLeo told House members Wednesday that he plans aThursday vote to abolish the eight-year boundary on a speaker’s term — even though he was the person who successfully championed that limit in 2009.
“Six years ago, the Winthrop Democrat led the move to establish term limits on his office as part of a wave of ethics reform following the departure of former speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, later convicted on federal corruption charges.
“Representative Garrett J. Bradley, who has served as one of DeLeo’s top deputies and is expected to help shepherd the rules debate Thursday, suggested House members would back DeLeo’s proposal as a way of fortifying the chamber against the Senate and the executive branch, both of which are under new leadership.
“’It’s about the House as an institution and how the House is viewed by our coequal branches of government, in particular the Senate and the administration,’ said Bradley, a Hingham Democrat. ‘And the last thing we need at this point, with all that’s going on, is an individual who’s viewed as a lame duck in the institution.’
“Granting DeLeo expanded power would allow him to continue enjoying the exalted fund-raising perch that helped him pay those bills, without facing the lame-duck status that could inhibit him.
“DeLeo recently refrained from pushing a pay raise for legislative leaders, which would have boosted his pension. Top Democrats said the delay meant that, in order to qualify for the enhanced pension higher compensation would bring, DeLeo would probably need to win two more terms as speaker, the second one in 2019.
“But the vote’s timing also matches uncertainty on Beacon Hill about the capitol’s new power dynamics. The new Senate president, Stanley C. Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, is perceived as being to the ideological left of the House’s recent preferences, and the new Republican governor, Baker, is still finding his political footing after diagnosing a $765 million midyear budget deficit.
“In a May 2009 Globe op-ed column, DeLeo said the term limits had been passed as part of a broader effort ‘in order to restore public confidence in the government.’
“The vote on DeLeo’s proposal comes as members await their committee assignments, which the speaker decides and which dictate salary, influence, office space, and staff size. It is not unheard of for legislative leaders to wield their committee assignment authority to pressure members to toe the party line.
“The rules package DeLeo is expected to submit Thursday will drop the current term-limit language. The House must adopt a new set of internal rules at the beginning of each two-year legislative cycle.
“In a statement late Wednesday, state Republican Party chairwoman Kirsten Hughes said, ‘Speaker DeLeo’s sudden reversal on term limits he once championed smells of hypocrisy. Speaker DeLeo’s about-face is yet another example of Democrats on Beacon Hill changing the rules for their own self-interest and demonstrates a lack of commitment to changing the culture of corruption that led to the indictment of three consecutive speakers.’
“Senior Democrats said they expected opponents to seek to preserve the limits through the amendment process.”
Click here to read the article.