By Andy Metzger and Michael Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- Asked about his practice in 2007 and 2008 offering state representatives the opportunity to make job recommendations for positions in the probation department, Speaker Robert DeLeo said Wednesday he "never" traded jobs for votes.
Four current and former representatives have testified in the ongoing criminal trial that DeLeo, in his former role as House budget chief, offered them the chance to recommend a candidate for a job in the electronic monitoring program or alerted them that a job was available. The individuals recommended all received jobs.
All four - Reps. Anne Gobi, Harold Naughton, James O'Day and former Rep. Robert Rice - said DeLeo's outreach on that issue did not have any effect on their decision to support him for speaker in 2009. House members chose DeLeo over Rep. John Rogers of Norwood to succeed former Speaker Salvatore DiMasi.
Federal prosecutors in the case against former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien and two of his former deputies have said a former legislative liaison for the probation department will testify that DeLeo was given 10 jobs at a new facility in Clinton to "assist him in the speaker's race."
DeLeo told reporters Wednesday that account is false.
"As I stated before relative to so-called getting jobs for votes, that never happened," DeLeo said.
Asked why he offered the job-filling opportunities to his colleagues, the Winthrop Democrat also reiterated statements he has made that he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
"After all four years of review and studies and whatnot, there has been found, as related to me, there has been no improprieties. I have not transgressed any laws, any other rules, or anything of any sort," DeLeo said. "That's the only thing that I can say."
After taking one question on the probation trial following a closed-door caucus, DeLeo boarded an elevator.
Federal prosecutors allege that O'Brien landed jobs for politically connected individuals "in order to influence and attempt to influence members of the legislature to act favorably on legislation and budget requests regarding the Probation Department as well as to assist the Chairman in an upcoming contest for the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives."
The House was meeting in a formal session Wednesday afternoon.
After voting 143-4 to approve a bill doubling individual donation limits to candidates and imposing new disclosure requirements on Super PACS, the House surfaced a $4.6 billion temporary state budget for passage. Talks are continuing on the annual fiscal 2015 budget bill with less than a week before the new fiscal year begins.