State Senator Brian A. Joyce, whose law office was raided by FBI agents last week, announced Tuesday that he will not run for another term.
“I will continue to work hard for Milton and all of the district but will not seek reelection,” he tweeted Tuesday.
Joyce, a Milton Democrat who has served almost 20 years at the State House, confirmed his decision via text message and said he has been trying to write a formal announcement “for weeks.”
He later posted a statement on Twitter, thanking the residents of his district, and said he is especially grateful “for the many recent gestures of support and acts of love.” He noted his “critical vote against the death penalty” and his standing firm “for equal marriage rights.”
Joyce, a lawyer, has been the subject of a series of Boston Globe articles detailing ways he allegedly used his position as a senator to benefit himself and his law practice. He has not been charged with a crime.
Federal agents removed dozens of boxes during the several-hour raid on Joyce’s law office last week. An FBI spokeswoman said at the time that the FBI and the IRS were “conducting court-authorized activity in connection with an ongoing investigation.”
The allegations have cast a pall over the 40-member Senate, with members declaring the federal investigation was hurting the reputation of the whole chamber.
Senators said privately Tuesday that they are relieved Joyce is leaving when his term ends early next year. But they emphasized they still did not know if Joyce would be charged by federal authorities or what those charges might be. They worried that Joyce’s alleged improprieties might dog the body for months to come.
In a statement, Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg wished Joyce well in future endeavors. “A strong supporter of public education, throughout his career he fought to secure funding for public school buildings across his district. In addition, he cared deeply for senior citizens and protecting the disabled,” Rosenberg said. “He took tough votes against public opinion on numerous issues including marriage equality and the death penalty.”
Still, Joyce’s decision not to seek another term has not quieted critics, who said it would be better for him to step down immediately.
“We think he should still resign,” said Paul D. Craney, executive director the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a conservative-leaning nonprofit advocacy organization. “It’s great he’s hanging it up after two federal agencies started investigating him, but he’s insulting the taxpayers by staying in office to the very end.”
A spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party, Terry MacCormack, said, “If Brian Joyce feels he cannot serve with the public’s trust for another term, then he should do right by his constituents and step down now.”
The controversy surrounding Joyce stems from several Globe news accounts. One outlined allegations that Joyce charged his campaign account for his son’s high school graduation party, and suggested Joyce had inappropriately approached state regulators on behalf of a private client. Another story said that he received free dry cleaning for more than a decade from a small business in his district.
Joyce agreed to pay nearly $5,000 to charity for tapping campaign funds for the graduation party and other campaign finance issues under an agreement with the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance made public in January. Joyce did not admit any wrongdoing.
Also Tuesday, state Representative Walter F. Timilty, a Milton Democrat, took out nomination papers and said he is a candidate for the seat long held by Joyce. The district runs from Milton to part of East Bridgewater.
“My decision to run for the state Senate is not a recent one but became official today,” Timilty said in a statement. “I have always been committed to the belief that all citizens should be accorded the right to be heard, to know that their vote matters and are deserving of full and active representation. I look forward to demonstrating this commitment though my service to the people of this district.”
For Timilty to get on the Democratic primary ballot for Senate, he would need to submit hundreds of signatures of voters in the district to local election officials by May 3, a spokesman for Secretary of State William F. Galvin said. Timilty would then need to submit at least 300 certified signatures to the secretary of state’s office by May 31.
The presidential primary in Massachusetts is March 1; the state primary is Sept. 8.
One Republican, Frank Morrissey, has also taken out nomination papers to run for the Senate seat, according to Galvin’s office.
Joyce, a former state representative who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2001, first won a seat in the state Senate in 1997.