Sen. Joyce won’t seek re-election amid FBI, IRS probe

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BOSTON – Embattled state Sen. Brian Joyce won’t seek re-election this year, announcing his plans on Twitter barely a week after FBI and IRS agents raided his Canton law office and on the same day that Milton Democrat Rep. Walter Timilty took steps to challenge Joyce if he did run again.

“I will continue to work hard for Milton and all of the district but will not seek re-election,” Joyce, a Milton Democrat, said in a statement, according to the Milton Times. “I have worked hard for Milton and achieved results, while always trying to abide by the rules.”

Joyce, who has been under a cloud of suspicion following multiple reports in the Boston Globe questioning the Senate veteran’s ethics, said nothing about his immediate future on Beacon Hill. Republican party officials and conservative activists have pressed Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, to expel Joyce.

Federal agents raided the lawmaker’s law office last Wednesday as part of a “court authorized activity” that came after Joyce had settled with campaign finance regulators to resolve questions about improper accounting and use of campaign funds.

The senator has also been the subject of media reports questioning the propriety of a “barter” arrangement with a Randolph dry cleaner for free services and his use of influence as a state politician to benefit his legal clients. The Office of Campaign and Political Finance previously declined to take further action after investigating a discount Joyce received on designer sunglasses purchased as gift for his fellow senators from a business in his district.

Many on Beacon Hill, including Gov. Charlie Baker and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, have stopped short of trying to push Joyce out, saying they hope to wait for the results of investigations.

Joyce has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. “On a personal note, Mary and I are very touched by the many kind gestures of support and love from our neighbors and friends,” he said on Twitter.

Joyce’s fall could be seen as a blow to Rosenberg, who pulled the nine-term Democratic senator into his senior leadership team last year as an assistant majority leader. Joyce temporarily stepped down from that post last spring after requesting, at Rosenberg’s urging, that the Ethics Commission investigate claims that he had improperly lobbied insurance regulators on behalf of an energy client.

Hours before Joyce issued his statement, Secretary of State William Galvin’s office confirmed that Timilty, who has served in the House of Representatives for almost 18 years, had pulled nomination papers Tuesday to potentially challenge Joyce.

It’s unclear whether the threat of a primary challenge contributed to Joyce’s decision, or if Timilty knew that Joyce was planning to step aside. Timilty did not respond to a phone call on Tuesday afternoon, and has declined to return numerous messages left for him at his office and on his cell phone from the News Service over that past weeks amidst rumblings that he was considering challenging Joyce.

Joyce’s Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth Senate district seat includes Avon, Canton, Milton, Randolph, Stoughton, West Bridgewater and parts of Braintree, Sharon, Easton and East Bridgewater. Timilty’s cousin James Timilty, of Walpole, already serves in the Senate.

“Senator Joyce has served the constituents of his district for more than 20 years,” Rosenberg said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “A strong supporter of public education, throughout his career he fought to secure funding for public school buildings across his district. In addition, he cared deeply for senior citizens and protecting the disabled. He took tough votes against public opinion on numerous issues including marriage equality and the death penalty. I wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Republican Frank Morrissey has also pulled papers to run in Joyce’s district, Galvin spokesman Brian McNiff said. Nomination signatures are due back to local clerks by May 3.

Written by Matt Murphy