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Mass. Leaders Downplay DiMasi's Resignation, Urge Forward View

Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi's letter of resignation yesterday was written because the speaker wanted to leave before the legislature started an important budget debate.

That's according to a spokesperson for the speaker, who also said a series of newspaper stories suggesting the speaker's friends had been paid for pushing legislation had no effect on his decision.

Gov. Deval Patrick today called DiMasi a partner and a friend. "He leaves an impressive legacy around healthcare and marriage equality, clean energy. He's been a great partner. There's personal sadness, but we've talked this weekend. I understand and I wish him well."

Patrick also discounted any suggestion that DiMasi was pushed out of office by casino supporters who clashed with the speaker after he thwarted the governor's gambling plan last year.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State William Galvin is urging lawmakers and the public to get past the drama of House Speaker Sal DiMasi's resignation, and move on to making changes that will prevent the next ethics controversy.

Legislation proposed by Patrick would give the attorney general, the secretary of state and the Ethics Commission greater power to enforce reporting rules for lobbyists and penalize violators. Galvin says the proposed subpoena powers would help him track the almost $40 million spent by lobbyists in just the last six months.

"This is a lot of money in a state of our size," Galvin says. "I can't give them accurate and complete answers."

A special House committee hears the governor's bill today, but Galvin and others worry that House leaders have not committed to passing it.

This program aired on January 26, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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