Legislative Spotlight – Brian S. Dempsey by Stephanie M. Davis

dempseyBy: Stephanie M. Davis – July, 2013

The FY2014 budget ball now sits in Governor Deval Patrick’s court. Having been finalized and reported out of its legislative conference committee on June 30th, the governor has 10 days to approve or veto it either partially or entirely or to amend it in portions.

A veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both legislative branches provided said override originates within the House. Subsequent to any overrides, the budget is then finalized for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1st and ends on June 30th.

In light of the prominent role the House plays in shaping fiscal and budgetary policy, it seems appropriate to shine some light on one Brian S. Dempsey.

Dempsey, a graduate of both Haverhill High and UMass Lowell, represents the 3rd Essex district (Haverhill) and was first elected to the House in 1991 as was one Robert A. DeLeo, now Speaker of the House.

Dempsey, a DeLeo ally, proved instrumental in moving gaming legislation through the House in 2010.

In January of 2011, he was appointed chairman of the all-important Ways and Means committee, following Representative Charles A. Murphy’s removal from that same position by Speaker DeLeo.

Dempsey’s chairmanship has proven to be rewarding in terms of both pay and campaign donations. The legislative package includes the $61,132.99 base plus an estimated $10,000 chairmanship increase plus a travel per diem of between $10-$100 while the legislature is in session.

Courtesy of the Pioneer Institute’s Mass Open Books database, Dempsey reported earnings of $65,737 in 2009, $80,343 in 2010 and $93,344.83 in 2011 and 2012. It should also be noted that the Brian S. Dempsey Insurance Agency of Haverhill has been in operation since 1997 and would probably account for a portion of his earnings.

According to information compiled from OpenStates.org and going back to 1997, Dempsey has received $657,479 in campaign donations, 89% of which has come from in-state sources and 84% from individuals. Representative industries include: Lobbyists ($82,524), Lawyers and Law Firms ($36,947), Public Sector Unions ($33,585), Electric Utilities ($26,875), Hospitals and Nursing Homes ($22,125), Health Professionals ($15,950) and Real Estate ($15,900).

During this same time period, his top contributors have included: NSTAR ($14250), Trinity Ambulance ($8050), Brian S. Dempsey Ins. Agency ($6500), Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ($4600), AFSCME ($4500), Brennan Group ($4400), Commonwealth of Massachusetts ($4050), National Grid USA ($4025), Karol Group ($4000) and Dewey Square Group ($3925).

In the 2011-2012 election cycle, Dempsey received $227,392 in campaign contributions, including: NSTAR ($4300), Commonwealth of Massachusetts ($3200), Trinity Ambulance ($2500), Shanley Fleming Bokskanski & Cahill ($2200) and SEIU ($1400)

According to the campaign finance database Influence Explorer, donations can come from “…an organization’s employees, family members and its political action committee.”

Lowell’s Trinity Ambulance, first contributed to Dempsey in 2003-2004 ($1,000), next in 2007-2008 ($2,000), 2009-2010 ($2,550) and 2011-2012 ($2,500).

The significance of the Ways and Means chairmanship is underscored by the fact that it was held in previous times by Thomas M. Finneran of Boston and Robert A. DeLeo of Winthrop. Both men went on to become House Speaker.