Dempsey starts own lobbying business

Ex-lawmaker leaves ML Strategies with clients he brought to firm


JUST A LITTLE OVER A YEAR after ending his legislative career for a high-profile lobbying job at ML Strategies, Brian Dempsey has left the Boston firm to start his own consulting business with two former aides.

The new firm is called Dempsey, Lucey and Associates and has office space at 11 Beacon St., just steps from the State House where Dempsey spent more than 26 years representing Haverhill. The former chief House budget writer has also recruited his former general counsel at the Ways and Means Committee Anna Lucey to join him.

Lucey left the State House in early 2017 for a job in Worcester as director of government affairs for Charter Communications, a Connecticut-based cable and internet provider offering service in 29 states. Dempsey’s new team will be rounded out by Tatum Mortimer, a former aide to Dempsey who is currently chief of staff to Rep. Denise Garlick of Needham.

Dempsey said the move has been “in the works” for the several weeks, but said he finished up at ML Strategies last week.

“A very good experience. I have a lot of respect for Steve Tocco and Bob Popeo. We’re going to continue working together on two or three matters and have a relationship going forward, but it’s an exciting change to start something on my own,” Dempsey said.

Executives at ML Strategies did not immediately offer comment on Dempsey’s departure when contacted on Monday. The lobbying firm’s chairman and CEO Stephen Tocco called him a “dynamic leader” and someone who would “bring great depth and a unique perspective to our clients and to our team in his COO leadership role” when Dempsey was hired. Robert Popeo is chairman at the Mintz Levin law firm.

Dempsey represented Haverhill in the state Legislature from 1991 through mid-2017 and was seen as a favorite to one-day become speaker of the House. However, he resigned his seat in the summer of 2017 to become senior vice president and chief operating officer at ML Strategies, filling a void left at the company when former interim U.S. Sen. Mo Cowan left for General Electric. Dempsey oversaw the firm’s Boston and Washington, D.C. government relations operations.

Dempsey was seen as someone potentially being groomed for the top job at ML Strategies, but said there were aspects of working at a big firm that he found limiting, such as being unable to pick up new clients if the firm already represented a company in the same space. He used the example of Wynn Resorts being a client of the firm, but not one of his clients, preventing him from getting involved in gaming.

“What I found is that by leaving you’re able to pick up other clients you may not be able to represent otherwise, ” Dempsey said. “That was certainly a factor.”

As chair of the Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee, Dempsey helped write the 2011 expanded gaming law that legalized casinos in Massachusetts.

Dempsey, Lucey and Associates will start out with a roster of about 10 to 12 clients that Dempsey said he recruited to ML Strategies, and will remain his clients at his new firm. The roster includes Blue Cross Blue Shield, Spectra Energy, Beacon Communities, AFC Urgent Care and Equinor, an oil and offshore wind company based in Norway, Dempsey said.

The News Service called ML Strategies on Monday morning looking to speak with Dempsey about his future plans, and was connected with former New Hampshire Congressman Frank Guinta, who confirmed, “He is no longer with the firm.”

Guinta is a senior vice president at ML Strategies based out of its Washington, D.C. office, according to the company’s website. He was hired in March.

Meet the Author

Matt Murphy

State House News Service
Under state ethics laws, Dempsey’s “cooling off” period ended in July freeing him to lobby both the executive branch, as well as the House and Senate, on behalf of clients.

Michael Norton of State House News Service contributed to this story.