Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: The Joyce of the State Senate

I know I've seen him somewhere before:

"Brian Joyce thrives at the edge of a fuzzy boundary; Senator’s law work and political role often seem to overlap" by Andrea Estes Globe Staff  May 03, 2015

Energi of Peabody has been very good to state Senator Brian A. Joyce. The private company, which sells insurance to the energy industry, has provided enough legal work to help the Milton Democrat more than double the size of his law firm, Joyce Law Group.

And when Energi executives ask for help, Joyce has responded, approaching state regulators on Energi’s behalf repeatedly, even though state law discourages lawmakers from lobbying state officials for clients. Joyce was such a regular, he eventually became the butt of a joke at the Division of Insurance, government e-mail records show.

“He’s baaaaaaack,” wrote insurance commissioner Joseph Murphy to one of his employees on Sept. 6, 2014, explaining that Joyce was again asking the agency to help Energi with a licensing issue.

Joyce, now assistant majority leader in the Senate, has frequently blurred the lines between his public duties and his private business, based on a Globe review of his legal work and campaign spending. While other lawyer-legislators take pains to separate their two jobs, Joyce seems to freely mix the two. He aggressively seeks legal work from cities and towns that rely on the Legislature for funding, and he rarely discloses clients to the state Ethics Commission, which is required if a lawmaker sees potential for conflicts of interest in his votes.

Joyce did not, for example, disclose his ties to Energi even as he sponsored a bill promoted by the company, gave speeches at Energi-sponsored conferences, and served on the legislative committee that oversees the industry that Energi insures.

In the same way, Joyce has championed legislation backed by an association of Dunkin’ Donuts shop owners without disclosing that some of the owners are clients. The owners threw a 2012 fund-raiser for Joyce to thank him for his help with the bill, prompting their lobbyist to joke that Joyce “views us as a cash cow,” according to an internal e-mail obtained by the Globe.

The Globe review of Joyce’s campaign spending suggests that there, too, he has intermingled private and public matters.

Joyce acknowledged to the Globe that he spent $3,400 from his campaign account for a son’s high school graduation party last June, claiming that the event was part of his reelection effort even though he faced no opponent. Joyce also charges far more to his campaign for his vehicle than any other senator, $749 a month for a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Only two other senators charged their campaign for cars in 2014.

Didn't you know lawmakers are above the law? 

And Joyce has already drawn attention for mixing personal and public affairs in another way, obtaining a 75 percent discount on $234-a-pair designer sunglasses he gave to fellow senators and family members as gifts last December. The unusual discount was not listed on the company’s website; state law forbids public officials from receiving a discount not available to everyone.

That's what prompted the Globe to look. I like this pair

Did you wipe them clean with an EPA rag?

In a way, Joyce is simply taking advantage of Massachusetts’ relatively weak ethics rules, which don’t automatically require lawyers in the Legislature to reveal their clients unless the legislator sees potential for conflict. State law also allows politicians wide discretion in how they spend campaign funds as long as they say the expenditure will further their career. Joyce, in fact, has never been sanctioned for an ethics violation, according to records of public discipline.

But Joyce agrees there are limits — and he argues forcefully that he has never exceeded them. The senator declined to answer questions directly, but his attorney, David H. Rich, said Joyce pays meticulous attention to the rules, seeking guidance from the Ethics Commission when he is in doubt.


Rich insisted, in a 10-page response to Globe questions, that any contacts Joyce has had with regulators on behalf of Energi or anyone else dealt with routine administrative matters and were allowed under state law.

Rich said the 2014 graduation party for Joyce’s son, an event that drew several hundred guests to his home, was an example of Joyce’s “friend-raiser” events that combine the personal and the political. 

Like deducting meals on taxes, right?

“The campaign paid for only a portion of the food, drinks and supplies, such as paper goods,” Rich explained. “Senator Joyce and his wife . . . are careful to pay personally for any expenses that have a personal benefit.”

He also lambasted the Globe for what he called “misguided attacks on Senator Joyce’s character.”

Joyce has, however, taken steps as the Globe has raised questions. He increased the amount he paid for the sunglasses after the Globe questioned the bargain price. He removed a YouTube video in which he boasted of helping a current legal client obtain state funding after the Globe sent written questions about his work for the company.

He disclosed that he’s seeking funding for another client the day after the Globe asked about it. He asked to be taken off the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy after the Globe began questioning his ties to Energi.

Acting like he did something wrong despite the denials.

But Pam Wilmot, executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause Massachusetts, said there are enough questions about Joyce’s conduct that state regulators should investigate.

“Many of these scenarios raise significant questions about whether Senator Joyce violated the ethics and campaign finance laws and they deserve further investigation by the Ethics Commission and Campaign Finance Office,” Wilmot said. “Public employees need to be fully loyal to the Commonwealth and to the public interest and not representing paying private clients before public agencies.” 

Resign now!

Ambitious in law, politics

Brian Joyce, 51, has always stood out for his ambition, rising from his first elected position as Milton parks commissioner in 1993 to become one of the most powerful politicians in the state Legislature. To get there, Joyce defeated a longtime Milton state representative who had defeated Joyce’s father for the same job in 1978.

It's become a quality you DO NOT WANT in a politician!

He was an early backer of Senator Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst for Senate president, and Rosenberg this year made him an assistant majority leader as well as chairman of a committee that decides whether bills go forward to a vote. Rosenberg declined to comment about Joyce.

Joyce, who graduated third in his class at Suffolk Law School, was no less ambitious about his law practice....



Brian Joyce’s ethical cloud challenges the Senate

State Senate discusses possible Brian Joyce ethics inquiry

Senate leader seeks ethics inquiry of Brian Joyce

Brian Joyce allegations expose weak disclosure laws

That's a much better photo of him.

Honestly, after having done this so long, he is nothing but another $cum surfaced in the ce$$ pool that is Beacon Hill.