What’s the endgame for Brian Joyce?

It’s one thing when the local paper runs a series of stories that raise questions about your ethics and actions as a state senator. And maybe there’s a little more heat when you have to enter into an agreement with the State Ethics Commission to settle some of those pesky allegations, though it helps to not have to admit anything.

But the bar is raised to a whole other level when agents wearing jackets stenciled with the letters “FBI” and “IRS” come knocking on your office door bearing paper granting them power to scour your files in a “court-authorized” investigation. Sen. Brian Joyceyou just became a lot more embattled.

“He’s never been popular” among his colleagues, Boston Globe State House bureau chief Frank Phillips, as much a fixture in the building as the marble floors, said on Greater Boston. “He’s getting more and more isolated. If he has a friend or two, I don’t know about it. The Senate leadership would very much like to see him go.”

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office is saying very little other than confirming the federal agents were at Joyce’s Canton law office stemming from “court-authorized activity in connection with an ongoing investigation.” Most speculation centers on the Globe’s stories about Joyce over the last year, including the most recent one in January about the Milton Democrat receiving free dry cleaning, either because of his position as senator (as the store owner claims) or to settle legal debts (as Joyce asserts).

Either one poses a problem for Joyce because, as former US attorney Michael Sullivan pointed out, he would have had to declare the services as payments on his taxes, hence the guessing as to why the IRS was there.

The dry cleaning dust-up is just the latest in the laundry list of alleged ethical slip-ups by Joyce. Last year, the Globe ran a story about Joyce getting a massive discount on high-end sunglasses from a local manufacturer that he gave to colleagues at Christmas. Joyce was forced to cut another check for the difference.

He also had to settle a finding by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance that he used his campaign account to pay for part of his son’s high school graduation party, which he claimed was partly a political event to justify the outlay.

Taken individually or even as a whole, it’s hard to see how those incidents rise to the level of a federal case and why his office would be the focus of a raid. But one of the more overlooked aspects of Joyce’s ethical and legal quandaries is his representation and alleged lobbying and legislating on behalf of some of his firm’s clients, such as the private Peabody insurance company Energi; Dunkin’ Donuts and its franchisees; and a local biotech company called Organogenesis.

A Globe story last May detailed a slew of questionable actions by Joyce, suggesting a blurring of the bright line between private attorney and elected official, something state law frowns upon. If free dry cleaning and discounted designer sunglasses don’t do it for a federal investigation, misusing a public office sure as heck will, as Ortiz has shown in the past.

Joyce has maintained he’s done nothing wrong and insisted he’s received clearance from the Ethics Commission on many of his actions. But settlements with the agency plus an ongoing investigation raise questions about what kind of green light he got. And federal prosecutors aren’t bound by civil agreements with the state.

Predictably, the state GOP called for Joyce’s immediate resignation while Gov. Charlie Baker, who had said an ethics investigation was in order after the dry cleaning stories, was a little more circumspect. “It’ll take its course and go wherever it goes,” Baker said.

Joyce, as the Globe’s Phillips noted, is being squeezed into his own little corner in the Senate. Once a rising star under Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Joyce was forced to give up his post as assistant majority whip and his only position now is chairman of the Special Committee to Improve Government, which Howie Carr, who has labeled the senator “Multiple Choice Joyce,” found ironic and amusing. Carr had some suggestions on how the committee chairman could improve government.

“1) Resign from office. 2) Quit. 3) Barricade your office at the State House and shout through the door, ‘Come and get me, coppers!’ 4) Make like Whitey and flee the jurisdiction,” Carr wrote. “This is a modern multiple-choice test, senator. There are no wrong answers.”

–JACK SULLIVAN

 

BEACON HILL

State Auditor Suzanne Bump is launching a look at the state’s troubled Department of Children and Families. (Boston Herald)

Gov. Charlie Baker is proposing more money for road and bridge repairs, but municipal officials say it won’t be enough. (Eagle-Tribune)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera appears to have lost a lawsuit brought by a former city landlord who claimed the municipality breached its lease. The big question is whether the city is on the hook for $2 million in repairs to the building or the facility’s reduced value of $800,000. (CommonWealth)

Stoughton Police Chief Paul Shastany, who was brought in to clean up the department after the previous chief was convicted of corruption, is retiring in April because of a clash with the town administration, which he labeled “deceitful” and having “no integrity.” (The Enterprise)

Two members of the oversight board of the Southfield development at the former naval air base in Weymouth have resigned just weeks after voting in favor of a controversial employment agreement with one of the board’s employees. (Patriot Ledger)

The former treasurer-collector in Raynham has filed suit against the town and its three selectmen alleging she was wrongfully terminated. (The Enterprise)

CASINOS

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg says Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is taking a page out of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s playbook by filing an appeal of an environmental permit for the proposed Wynn Resorts casino in Everett. (Boston Herald)

The Springfield City Council approves new conditions for the MGM casino project. (Masslive)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Obama will embark on a historic trip to Cuba in the next several weeks, becoming the first sitting president to visit the island nation since Calvin Coolidge. (New York Times)

A toxic talk radio culture is fanning the flames of outrage in advance of the South Carolina primary. (Boston Globe)

US Rep. Jim McGovern plans to spend Thursday night in a Worcester homeless shelter. (Masslive)

ELECTIONS

A new poll shows Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton by seven points in the Massachusetts primary. (Masslive)

Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina endorses Republican Marco Rubio for president. (Governing)

Herald columnist Kimberly Atkins considers whether the primary deck is stacked for Hillary because of superdelegates.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Globe’s Hiawatha Bray says Apple is right to not cooperate with a government effort to hack the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, arguing it will lead to a slippery slope of privacy invasion.  The Herald’s Jessica Van Sack also sides with Apple. So does Google’s CEO. A Herald editorial, however, rips the company for its stance.

Paul Moran collected the trash left outside John Updike’s home in Beverly from 2006 to 2009 and now he’s trying to sell it. (Salem News)

With cell phones performing more and more functions, a Billerica company is developing an app for a digital, mobile drivers license. (The Sun)

EDUCATION

A District Court judge directed a verdict of not guilty in the second day of the jury trial of the suspended Mashpee school superintendent who was accused of trespassing when he entered a home to verify if a student lived there. (Cape Cod Times)

Hundreds protest the proposed budget for the Boston schools. (WBUR)

Water damage at the Consentino School in Haverhill could top $500,000. (Eagle-Tribune)

The owner of a failed fish supply business on the Cape who successfully dismissed nearly $600,000 owed to creditors in a bankruptcy filing has been hired as an interim assistant dean at UMass Dartmouth’s business school. (Cape Cod Times)

A routine audit determined data sent by Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School to qualify for a federally funded free breakfast and lunch service was inaccurate and the school was not eligible for the program, meaning students there could lose the benefit if officials don’t find another funding source. (Standard-Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Trying to fend off a public relations disaster caused by plans to close a garden that holds sentimental value to patients and families, Children’s Hospital says it will open a rooftop garden on a new building. (Boston Globe) The hospital’s CEO, Sandra Fenwick, pens an op-ed to explain the plans.

TRANSPORTATION

“It’s Amtrak’s fault!” Commuter rail coming into South Station came to a standstill this morning, but state transportation officials insist this one wasn’t their doing. (Boston Globe) (The Red Line, however, had plenty of problems of its own.) The MBTA vows to dial up its inspection of Orange Line cars after a panel fell off a train on Tuesday and prompted riders to kick out a window as subway car filled with smoke. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A solar farm proposed for the former landfill in Tyngsboro is on hold as the Legislature debates what to do about solar incentives. (The Sun)

The Brockton City Council is planning to continue the legal defense against a $68 million suit by the developers of a proposed controversial power plant despite the city already spending $1.37 million in legal fees and over the opposition of Mayor Bill Carpenter. (The Enterprise)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The defense rests: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers want to step down and pass the appeal of his death sentence on to a new legal team. (Boston Herald)

Notorious Roxbury drug kingpin Darryl “God” Whiting won’t be released earlier from federal prison after all. (Boston Globe)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts is dismissing as meritless a bid by the city of Worcester to drastically reduce the fees and court costs the organization is trying to recover in the wake of its victory overturning an ordinance banning panhandling. (Telegram & Gazette)

A Rockland selectman who has twice run unsuccessfully for the Legislature, has been charged with driving drunk while carrying a gun after police say he was passed out in a fast food drive-thru lane. (Patriot Ledger)