Rosenberg stays mum on Joyce but may back client disclosure

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BOSTON – With last week’s federal law enforcement raid of Sen. Brian Joyce’s law office fresh in the minds of many on Beacon Hill, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg on Monday held firm on his commitment to allow the investigation of Joyce to unfold fully before the Senate takes any action.

“The Senate is busy at work; we have sessions, we put out legislation, we have committees, commissions, all kinds of work is going on,” Rosenberg said during an appearance on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio program. “This is clearly in the picture. It’s regrettable on a human level, it’s regrettable on a professional level, but the reality is that investigations are underway and we’re going to continue to do our work and when they come to resolution if there are resolutions that require the Senate to act we will act at that time.”

Joyce, a Milton Democrat who has served in the Senate since 1998, has been the subject of several media reports questioning his use of campaign funds and influence as an elected official to benefit his legal practice, and last month entered a settlement to resolve questions raised by state campaign finance officials. Joyce has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service agents conducted a raid of Joyce’s Canton law offices last Wednesday, leading to calls from the Massachusetts Republican Party and others for his resignation.

When co-host Jim Braude suggested that legislators who are also lawyers should be required to disclose their legal clients, Rosenberg said he would be open to such a requirement.

“Ethics laws are under review all the time. It’s fair game, if somebody wants to raise that and put it on the table that would be a fair discussion to have,” he said.

Members of the Legislature often hold outside jobs, including House and Senate members and members of the Governor’s Council, which vets judicial nominees, who are attorneys and represent legal clients.

Later in the interview, when Braude again mentioned lawyer-legislator disclosure, Rosenberg said, “I would have to do more homework on it, but I am definitely open-minded on it.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 26 of the 47 states that require lawmakers to file financial disclosure statements also require lawmakers to disclose the names of income-producing clients, legal or otherwise. Massachusetts requires legislators to disclose financial interests, but not the names of clients they might represent.

After noting that the investigation of Joyce, a one-time assistant majority leader under Rosenberg, is “not my favorite subject,” the Senate president declined to say whether he has spoken directly to the embattled senator.

“Under advice of counsel I do not discuss any of the substance that’s under investigation,” he said. “Can’t do that, not going there.”

Written by Colin A. Young