Power plays are pols’ favorite pastime

Massachusetts has produced its share of outstanding statesmen — from John Adams and John Hancock to JFK, to name but a few. Our history rings with powerful speeches delivered across the commonwealth, advocating for freedom, justice and the rights of our fellow men.

And then there is that subset of the public servant crowd who’ve honed chutzpah to a fine art. No doubt their ilk have always been with us, but we live with three such examples today.

First up: former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, once a force to be reckoned with on Beacon Hill, until he was convicted on a federal corruption charge in 2011. After serving five of his eight-year sentence, he sought to return to the State House as a lobbyist. Secretary of State William Galvin rejected his application, based on those convictions on federal corruption and extortion charges.

But DiMasi was not deterred, and on Thursday he was cleared to register as a lobbyist by Superior Court Judge Robert Gordon, who overturned Galvin’s decision.

The gist — if the Legislature intended to make convictions on federal criminal charges grounds for automatic disqualification from lobbying in the state, it should have explicitly listed those crimes as triggers for the legal move.

The notion that a legislative body needs to spell out the specific crimes that would keep a person from lobbying lawmakers is one thing, that one would take this technicality as a victory lap is another.

Galvin isn’t giving up, and said he’ll appeal. We expect that DiMasi won’t quit either.

Though University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan left the hallowed halls of Congress in 2007, he still has a pol’s instinct’s for self-preservation.

Meehan, with a salary of $602,500 a year, declared the UMass system “in survival mode” amid the coronavirus pandemic. He, of course, is not the only top-tier UMasser with a groaning wallet, but he’s the one having a case of the vapors. As jobless Bay Staters can attest, if you’re making $602,500 you’re not in survival mode. You can still manage a struggle meal of duck confit and an insouciant shiraz.

And finally, Sen. Elizabeth Warren — the erstwhile lawmaker who pledged to fight for us, then took off to campaign for the presidency.

After sliding in the polls, she finally bowed out of the Democratic primary race. But a lot has happened since Joe Biden declared he would choose a woman as a running mate. The demonstrations and unrest since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer sparked calls for racial justice and equity, and many have impressed upon Biden the need for his vice presidential pick to be a Black woman.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, once a contender for the Democratic nomination, removed herself from consideration to be Biden’s running mate, saying that the former vice president should put a woman of color on the ticket.

And then there’s Warren, in the same country, seeing the same demonstrations, hearing the same speeches. telling Rachel Maddow that should Biden ask her to be his No. 2, she’d say yes.

That’s some trifecta. But as many have said — these are strange times.


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