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Gov. Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and Speaker Robert DeLeo are promising to enact swift ethics reform. Their resolve comes in the wake of the indictment of former Speaker Salvatore DiMasi. DiMasi is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for steering taxpayer money to a software contractor.
On Wednesday, Speaker Robert De Leo convened a closed-door meeting of Democrats in the House to discuss DiMasi's indictment.
Democrats said the mood in the meeting was one of shock, disgust and anger. Most Democrats would not talk on tape about the meeting. One of the few who did, Rep. Dan Bosley of North Adams, tried to remain noncommittal about the accusations against DiMasi.
"You'd have to be pretty dumb to do what is alleged to be done," Bosley said. "So the jury's out, and we'll see what happens. If it's true, it's very disappointing. If it's not true, then I hope he beats it, and I hope that we get to the bottom of it."
One representative got a firsthand look the at public anger over the allegations of corruption. Denis Guyer of Dalton said he was given the finger by two drivers when they saw his state representative's license plate. Still, Guyer said he doesn't regret having voted for DiMasi for speaker.
"When I voted for Sal DiMasi in January, it was rumor, it was speculation, it was speculative," Guyer said. "A lot of what we were hearing was in the media. I looked at Speaker DiMasi's record — a 30-year legislator."
One legislator who worked closely with DiMasi was House Republican leader Brad Jones, who described his feelings as he read the indictment Tuesday night.
"Just completely unacceptable behavior," Jones said. "I understand there's a presumption of innocence, but if the case is proven, or portions of it are proven, it paints a very, very outrageous picture of behavior in the speaker's office. "
Members of a joint House-Senate committee are expected to meet behind closed doors Thursday to negotiate new legislation that would reform lobbying and other ethics questions on Beacon Hill.
The DiMasi indictment has precipitated the resolve of Statehouse leaders to move quickly on ethics reform. Gov. Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker DeLeo issued a joint statement Wednesday saying they "owe the people of Massachusetts nothing less."
This program aired on June 4, 2009.
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