Former speaker named ‘University Fellow for Public Life’
DON’T CALL HIM “Mr. Speaker.” He’s now a “University Fellow for Public Life.”
Longtime Massachusetts House speaker Robert DeLeo, who resigned last month and said he was in talks with Northeastern University about a job, has been named to a new post with that rarefied title at the school.
It’s not clear what the position will entail, but a spokeswoman for Northeastern shared DeLeo’s title and confirmed that he started this week, on Wednesday. She said more information would be made available on Monday.
DeLeo appears on the Northeastern website faculty listing, where it says his position will be based in the university provost’s office. He did not immediately respond to an email.
In mid-December, DeLeo filed a disclosure with the House clerk and state Ethics Commission that he planned to “begin negotiating prospective employment opportunities with Northeastern University.” DeLeo said at the time that he had not had any direct conversations with officials at Northeastern, and it was unclear what preceding discussions set the stage for his disclosure.
DeLeo resigned as speaker and from his Winthrop-based House seat on December 29, in the closing days of the legislative session. The following day, his longtime top deputy, Ron Mariano, who served as majority leader under DeLeo, was elected by the House as the new speaker.
With his resignation, DeLeo set in motion the scheduling of a special election in March to fill his House seat, which covers all of Winthrop and a section of Revere.
DeLeo became the latest in a steady flow of lawmakers who have resigned their seats and triggered off-schedule special elections. DeLeo’s is an extreme case, since it came only weeks after the November election and meant that he did not even begin to serve the new two-year term to which he had just been reelected. The new legislative session began January 6.
A 2019 report from MassINC, the public policy think tank that publishes CommonWealth, said nearly a quarter of all House members at that time and more than one third of all Senate members had first won their seats in special elections. “These are generally extremely low-turnout contests held on short notice, providing considerable advantage to those with established political connections,” the report said.
DeLeo was elected to the Legislature in 1990, and his 12 years as House speaker were the longest in state history. He received his undergraduate degree from Northeastern before going on to attend Suffolk Law School.