Panagiotakos’s lobbying fees soar

Overall, lobbying fees were down in 2013

Steven Panagiotakos, once one of the state’s most respected lawmakers, is quickly becoming one of Beacon Hill’s top lobbyists.

Records on file with the Secretary of State’s office indicate Panagiotakos’s lobbying business has grown dramatically since the end of 2010, when he left the Legislature and his post as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. His lobbying income rose from $57,500 in 2011 to $161,000 in 2012 to $324,500 in 2013. His clients now include Northeast Utilities, WinnDevelopment, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans.

Panagiatakos, who operates out of his law office in Lowell, said he didn’t plan to go into lobbying after leaving the Legislature but the work just evolved. His first year after leaving the Legislature, he represented a West Coast client interested in recruiting higher education customers in Massachusetts and New England. He registered as a lobbyist, but was careful not to lobby his former colleagues in the Legislature. State law bars ex-lawmakers from lobbying their former colleagues for a year after leaving office.

After the one-year cooling off period was over, Panagiotakos said a couple clients approached him unsolicited about doing lobbying work for them. His business then just started to grow, although he thinks the growth will taper off this year. “I’ve enjoyed it because it’s allowed me to work on issues I like,” he said.

A review of lobbying expenditures in 2013 indicates spending overall was way down compared to just two years ago. Among hired-gun lobbyists, those who work on their own and hire themselves out to multiple clients, Robert Rodophele led the pack with receipts of $483,606, followed by Thomas Joyce ($440,000), former Senate president Robert Travaglini ($329,131), and Panagiotakos.

Two years ago, according to a CommonWealth report, Travaglini and Panagiotakos wouldn’t have even made the top 10. The highest-paid lobbyist in 2011 was also Rodophele, who reported fees of $662,500, nearly $200,000 more than this year. William P. Kennedy, who ranked No. 2 in 2011 with fees of $594,150, reported lobbying income of $293,390 last year.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The three principals at Kearney, Donovan & McGee (Dennis Kearney, Paul Donovan, and Michelle McGee) all showed up in the top 20 last year, along with a host of veteran lobbyists whose names are familiar to Beacon Hill insiders. Five of the top 20 are former state lawmakers.

The most lucrative lobbying arrangement in Massachusetts may belong to John Sasso, the former chief of staff to Gov. Michael Dukakis. He reported earning $192,000 in lobbying fees during 2013 from just one client – Partners HealthCare.