Forgotten, but not gone.
That’s how ex-pols are often described at the State House after they leave elective office. But after checking out the latest Beacon Hill lobbying reports, that old saw needs to be updated.
Forgotten, but not gone – and filthy rich!
It is astonishing to see how much some of these ancient shiftless hacks are grabbing, especially when you consider how long it’s been since any of them ever won an election.
Let’s start with 79-year-old ex-Lt. Gov. Tommy O’Neill – “Thomas P. O’Neill da Turd” as the sergeant-at-arms used to describe him when he entered the House chambers for the annual State of the State address.
Da Turd is the son of ex-House speaker Tip O’Neill, and he was dragged into office twice on the bottom of the Democrat gubernatorial ticket. But on his own Tipleet won just a single election – as a state rep in Cambridge, in 1972.
No problem, though. For the first six months of the year, his firm, O’Neill and Associates, collected $1.89 million from 59 clients. And here I was wondering how he was paying for that swell new waterside mansion in Harwich Port, with the smart Mercedes sports coupe parked outside. Hi Tommy – see ya next summer, pal!
State House hacks usually make their millions the old-fashioned way – with the kiss in the mail. Like Billy Bulger, the Corrupt Midget. Now 89, the CM has been pocketing a pension that is now $273,759 a year for more than 20 years.
At the State House, one of Bulger’s stooges was Chester Greenough Atkins – “Billy Bulger’s butler,” as he was known. Fat and entitled (he was born in Switzerland) Chet served briefly in Congress until he retired due to ill health – the voters got sick of him.
A four-term incumbent, he lost the Democrat primary in 1992, with a miserable 35 percent of the vote. It may have been the worst Congressional primary drubbing ever until Liz Cheney last year in Wyoming.
But no problem – at age 75, Billy Bulger’s butler is now a “partner” in something called Tremont Strategies. According to the State House News Service, Atkins’ crew took in $2.04 million in the first six months of the year.
Another lobbyist in that outfit is one Jason Aluia. He used to be a coat holder for Sal DiMasi, the former House speaker, convicted felon and jailbird.
Given the fact that Sal can list his Bureau of Prisons number – 27371-038 – as a resume enhancer, you’d think he too would be making the big bucks in his post-prison career as a lobbyist. But Sal, at age 78, is not rolling in the dough, maybe because his former street soldiers are cutting in on the take.
Not just Aluia, but Aaron Michlewitz, who went from skipper of Sal’s staff to being current Speaker Ron Mariano’s elected consigliere as Ways and Means chairman. Poor Sal – his payroll Charlies are putting him to shame in the lobbying grift.
Speaking of the Boston boys, how about the East Boston crew? Bobby Travaglini, who’s a young whippersnapper in this mob at a mere 71 years old, made his bones in the 1970s as a precinct captain working for guys named Dee Dee Coviello and Sonny Buttiglieri.
Now Trav, who became Senate president, paid himself $445,000 in the first six months of the year. Trav, you’ve come a long way from Junior’s Trolley!
According to Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s records, Trav is tied for highest-paid lobbyist with another Ward 1 ward heeler – Carlo Basile, the ex-state rep who went to work for then-Gov. Charlie Parker as patronage boss. Now Carlo made just under half a million a year in the first six months of the year.
It’s amazing how well these Eastie guys are doing, especially considering the ruination of Ward 1. In the old days, Eastie pols were strictly small timers, like Pixie Palladino, who definitely wasn’t a pixie, or James Coffey, who was known as “I’ll Take a Buck.” The name said it all.
Carlo is in the same firm with ex-Rep. Mike Costello. Costello is a second-generation State House hack. His father was another Bulger stooge in the Senate – Nick Costello. Now the son has figured out the racket, and their firm raked in $2.72 million in the first six months of the year. Costello pocketed $335,000 in the first six months of the year.
Another erstwhile Eastie pol living large in his golden years is Dennis Kearney. He last won an election in 1982, and is now 74 years old. Kearney’s lobbying firm collected $1.42 million in the first six months of 2023.
Obviously, even a dunce can make big bucks in the lobbying racket. Consider ex-Rep. Brian Dempsey. He got his B.A. from UMass – Lowell – at age 32.
Like Sal DiMasi, he has what you would consider a stellar State House curriculum vitae. Not only has he been lugged for drunk driving, but Dempsey was also taken into protective custody by the local cops for getting into a brawl with his brother in his mom’s parlor – on Mother’s Day.
Dempsey now has the third highest-grossing lobbying firm in the hackerama. He personally made $300,000 in the first six months of the year.
Then there’s Phil Johnston – talk about forgotten but not gone. He was first elected to the legislature back in the days of the old 240-member House, which was abolished in 1978. Mike Dukakis gave him a hack job in 1984, and Bill Delahunt stole a US House seat from him in a primary recount – in 1996.
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But living well is the best revenge, and now, at the ripe old age of 79, Phil Johnston just pocketed $269,600 from his lobbying firm. That is what his old boss Mike Dukakis used to call a “good job at a good wage.”
How ecstatic do you think all the above were last week when Ron Mariano announced he’d run for yet another term as Speaker next year?
He’s from Quincy, which so many of these glad-handers have ties as well. So the gravy train will keep on trucking for a while longer.
And why can’t Mr. Speaker just keep running and running and running? After all, he’s still a young man. Ron doesn’t turn 77 until Tuesday – Halloween.
No wonder he gets along so splendidly with all his fellow ancient hacks.
They’ve all spent a lifetime together – slurping happily at the public trough.
Trick or treat, taxpayers!
(Order Howie’s new book, “Paper Boy: Read All About It!” at howiecarrshow.com or amazon.com.)