The Supreme Judicial Court today overruled Secretary of State Bill Galvin's refusal to let disgraced Speaker Sal DiMasi try his hand at lobbying, saying the state law that lets Galvin bar certain reprobates from the job applies only to people convicted of specifically state crimes and DiMasi was convicted just under federal laws against conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion.
The state's highest court ruled that Galvin erred in concluding state law was ambiguous enough that he could rightly bar DiMasi from lobbying for at least ten years for doing things that would have resulted in his conviction under state law, had he been tried and convicted in Pemberton Square rather than down on the waterfront.
We conclude that the language of the disqualification provision is unambiguous, and that the Secretary's interpretation contravenes the plain statutory language and the Legislature's intent in enacting the provision. General Laws c. 3, § 45 (m), does not afford the Secretary discretion to consider what other offenses might require automatic disqualification, even if the underlying conduct that resulted in a conviction could support a felony conviction pursuant to G. L. c. 3, 55, or 268A. Rather, the disqualification provision limits automatic disqualification to individuals who have been convicted of a felony set forth in G. L. c. 3, 55, or 268A.
Following his 2011 conviction on seven federal counts, a federal judge sentenced DiMasi to eight years; he served five years, then was released for medical reasons. In 2019, he was well enough to try to register as a lobbyist in Massachusetts, at which point Galvin said no.