House Speaker Robert DeLeo intends to “begin negotiating prospective employment opportunities” with Northeastern University, according to a disclosure filed with the House clerk on Friday, confirming rampant speculation of his future plans that’s already fueled a race for his successor.
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As of his filing late Friday morning, a copy of which was obtained by the Herald, DeLeo said he has “not personally had any discussions with anyone from Northeastern University relative to any possible employment opportunities.”
While he said a disclosure was not required “based on my current status,” he has “elected to disclose my intention to begin negotiating prospective employment opportunities with Northeastern University out of an abundance of caution.”
The filing was also sent to the State Ethics Commission, according to the letter.
The 70-year-old DeLeo acknowledged the disclosure in a statement Friday afternoon, saying, “As of today, I have not personally had any discussions with anyone from Northeastern University relative to any possible employment opportunities.”
“On December 16, 2020, I requested that my personal legal counsel contact the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission to discuss my status and to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Conflict of Interest Law,” he continued. “Although, based on my current status, a disclosure is not currently required I have nevertheless elected to disclose my intention to begin negotiating prospective employment opportunities with Northeastern University out of an abundance of caution.”
Speculation that DeLeo was in talks to potentially depart the State House for his alma mater took Beacon Hill by storm this week. And it quickly set off a race for the speakership that DeLeo has held for 12 years.
Sources tell the Herald that Quincy state Rep. Ron Mariano, the majority leader, has the votes locked up to succeed DeLeo.
Mariano in a statement praised DeLeo’s leadership and legislative accomplishments, and said, “If Speaker DeLeo resigns, I will be a candidate for Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. I believe I have earned the trust and confidence of my colleagues and that I have gained their support to lead the House forward.”
Mariano said the House must remain focused on the police reform and abortion proposals it’s passed getting through as the session comes to a close.
“Our constituents are eager to recover from this pandemic and emerge stronger by reviving the economy, curbing the cost of health care, building the housing and transportation infrastructure we so desperately need, and addressing the devastating consequences of climate change,” the 74-year-old said.
State Rep. Claire Cronin, D-Easton, told the Herald on Friday that she’s “confident that Leader Mariano has the votes to be the next speaker of the House once Speaker DeLeo chooses to step down.”
But state Rep. Russell Holmes, a Mattapan Democrat, threw his hat into the ring Friday morning, telling the Herald he wants to end the “backroom deals” that have plagued the chamber for too long under DeLeo.
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