As departing state representatives gave farewell speeches Tuesday from the floor of the Massachusetts State House, a familiar face, not seen on Beacon Hill for years, looked on from the rostrum.
Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi has made few public appearances since being released from prison two years ago. So for many lawmakers and lobbyists, Tuesday marked the first time seeing him since he was sentenced back in 2011 on charges of public corruption.
DiMasi got a round of applause from his former colleagues when Speaker Robert Deleo introduced him on the floor of the House.
Cambridge State Representative Marjorie Decker said she was pleasantly surprised to see him.
Arline Isaacson of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus said, “I’m glad he came back to see the goodbye speeches of so many people he worked with for so many years.”
DiMasi was sent to federal prison in Kentucky in 2011 where his family said he never received proper treatment for cancer. When he arrived at Boston Logan Airport after being released in November 2016, DiMasi looked gaunt and weak.
Many remarked Tuesday that his health seems much improved and he told reporters he was feeling much better. And while his Beacon Hill legacy is debated, many lawmakers agree his legislative achievements are significant - having national impact.
Isaacson said, “He did incredibly important public policy changes under his leadership. Under him, we won the right for same-sex marriage to retain our right to marry.”
Decker added, “He was one of the key supporters of healthcare as we know it today, also called Obamacare.”