Howie Carr: Lobbyists laughing all the way to the bank

It must suck to be Salvatore Francis DiMasi, the jailbird ex-House speaker who’s back on the front page again at the age of 76.

He’s a lobbyist, don’t you know, and if his advanced age would seem to put him on the back nine, it doesn’t, at least not by State House lobbying standards.

Ex-Sen. Wacky Jackie Brennan of Malden, who’s a month younger than Sal, made $280,000 last year, according to his filing with the secretary of state.

How about ex-Lt. Gov. Tommy O’Neill, who was last elected to the Legislature in 1972? He’s 77 and he reported $350,000 in income in 2021.

Then there’s Sal. He used to be the hacko di tutti hacki on Beacon Hill, but now he’s strictly a ham-and-egger, at least in lobbying terms. He reported $62,500 in income last year, after a meager $3,750 in 2020.

But at least Sal’s got his kiss in the mail, right? Actually, no. His $60,142.32 a year state pension was yanked in 2011, back when he was issued his first orange jumpsuit by the federal Bureau of Prisons.

In the 11 years since Sal lost the pension, Billy Bulger, just to cite one of his fellow legislative alumni, has pocketed almost $3 million — most recently at the rate of $272,719 per annum.

So Sal’s pension is kaput, I think the condo in the North End with the three mortgages is gone, the Marstons Mills manse is long gone, the trophy second wife’s media career is defunct and now the SJC gives him a dope slap upside the head.

The state’s highest court has decided to take up the legality of a state law saying that a convicted federal felon cannot become a lobbyist for 10 years following his conviction.

That was the statute that Secretary of State Bill Galvin used to try to stop his old legislative colleague from becoming a lobbyist. But it’s now moot because it’s been more than a decade since Sal took the fall.

Nevertheless, the SJC has decided to rule on the case because, it said, the issue of a crook trying to return to the scene of his crime, in this case the State House, “is likely to recur.”

No kidding! In fact, other convicted felons who happen to be former House speakers are also lobbyists, but they got in under the wire. They weren’t grandfathered in, they were grand-feloned in, you might say.

Consider Thomas “Felon” Finneran, now the proprietor of Finneran Global Strategies. Obstructed justice in 2003, but no problem. Last year the Felon reported making $484,000, up from $260,500 in 2020.

As speaker, he succeeded Good Time Charlie Flaherty. Flaherty went down on an income-tax evasion rap. He’s now 83 years old, but Charlie still reported $61,000 in lobbying fees last year, after making $90,000 in 2020.

What’s the difference between Finneran and Flaherty and DiMasi? The F-boys pleaded guilty, and thus were given suspended sentences. DiMasi foolishly demanded a trial — that was his big mistake. Once the G-men laid the conspiracy out in detail — he extorted $65,000 with the help of a bagman and, yes, a lobbyist — what the hell choice did the judge have?

Likewise, what choice did the Legislature have? Reluctantly, they passed the 10-year felon ban.

And now Sal finds himself deprived of the ability to make huge amounts of money for buying endless rounds of drinks, like everybody else who ever served, or was overserved, in the Massachusetts General Court.

Take a guy like Brian Dempsey, a back-bencher who used to get stopped at Interstate 93 after allegedly ingesting a bad ice cube. After this cipher stopped getting lugged on Mother’s Day, Dempsey was made House chairman of Ways and Means.

His sponsor was majority leader Ronald Mariano, now the House speaker. Mariano was grooming the below-average Dempsey to succeed him as speaker, after which Mariano would become, you guessed it, a lobbyist.

But there was a problem — Robert DeLeo, who upgraded the ethics of House speaker by only being listed as an unindicted (rather than indicted) conspirator in the probation-department scandal, refused to leave.

Finally Dempsey got sick of waiting his turn, and he quit to become … wait for it … a lobbyist.

Dempsey reported $600,000 in income in both 2020 and 2021.

Now Mariano is most likely getting ready to check out after the midterms. He’ll be 76 on Halloween, kind of late to start a new career, but I’m going to hazard a guess … lobbyist.

His probable successor? The current chairman of Ways and Means, one Aaron Michlewitz of the North End. He’s got impeccable credentials — he used to be a yes-man for Salvatore Francis DiMasi.

Do you understand now why Sal can’t bring himself to quit the rackets?

Meanwhile, the job of House majority leader has remained vacant since the very vacant Claire Cronin resigned after getting the ambassadorship to Ireland from her fellow airhead, Dementia Joe Biden.

Mike Moran, the veteran payroll patriot from Brighton, would have loved to have filled the majority leader’s slot, which would have technically made him assistant hacko di tutti hacki. But then the dodgy Moran might have become a viable contender for Speaker against Sal Jr., I mean, Aaron Michlewitz.

Down the road, though, I predict Michlewitz and Moran find themselves in the same line of work. You guessed it, lobbyist.

And why wouldn’t they? Look at the official 2021 numbers for other ex-solons in the lobbying grift — Bobby Travaglini ($496,154.42), James Vallee ($433,199.53), Michael Costello ($585,000), William Cass ($266,000), Stephen Buonicionti ($131,000) and Dennis Kearney ($121,696.01).

All of them forgotten but not gone. But you know what they say — living well is the best revenge. That should the motto of all State House lobbyists.

Now you know why Jailbird Sal DiMasi is so bitter.

But look on the bright side, Mr. Speaker. You have one thing none of the rest of the above payroll patriots have ever had.

An official Bureau of Prisons inmate identification number: 27371-038.

BOSTON MA. – NOVEMBER 26: Ex lawmaker Sal DiMasi appeals the rejection of his lobbying license at 1 Ashburton Place on November 26, 2019 in Boston, MA. staff photo by Mary Markos

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