Former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi said Tuesday he thinks he deserves a "second chance" to professionally advocate on issues like homelessness and prison reform, opening up about why he's fighting to return to Beacon Hill and why he thinks Secretary of State William Galvin was wrong to deny his registration as a lobbyist.
DiMasi is appealing Galvin's decision, which was based on the fact that DiMasi was convicted, and served time in prison, in federal court of accepting kickbacks in exchange for steering lucrative state contracts to a Burlington software company.
"Whatever you think I did, I think I've paid my debt to society and I think I can get a second chance to be a contributing citizen so that I can benefit the citizens of Massachusetts," DiMasi told reporters after the hearing.
DiMasi, who was granted an early release from prison due to his battle with cancer, said he was feeling "pretty well" and looking forward to Thanksgiving. He was joined at the hearing by his wife Debbie DiMasi and his lawyer Meredith Fierro.
"I think I can contribute a great deal," DiMasi said. "I want to help the homeless. I have a great deal of experience in the Legislature in those issues, health care, criminal justice reform, especially. There are a lot of things I feel strongly about, and I'd love to be able to contribute as much as I can to make this a better state and a better country. God knows we need some improvement."
Galvin's lobbying division has argued that DiMasi's criminal conviction merits an automatic disqualification to lobby on Beacon Hill, but Fierro said Galvin was "overstepping his authority." The law, Fierro argued, only speaks to criminal convictions in state court.
Fierro requested an expedited decision within 45 days from the hearing officer so that she can appeal to the courts as quickly as possible if the decision goes against DiMasi.