Saturday, 2:15 PM
Wilkerson visits State House, prompting officials to lock her former office
By Matt Viser, Globe Staff
State Senate president Therese Murray today ordered former state senator Dianne Wilkerson's office to be locked up after Wilkerson made a surprise appearance there even though she resigned her position last week.
Wilkerson's five-member staff -- which remains on the payroll -- will be moved into the basement of the State House to work temporarily on any district issues until the new senator assumes office.
"We understood from her attorney that she would give advance notice to finish going through her files and do so on weekends, so as not to be disruptive," said Murray's spokesman, David Falcone. "No one was aware that she was coming to the State House today."
The office was to be locked by the end of the day, and her staff was moved to a basement office. Wilkerson was ordered to remove as many things as possible and turn in all of her keys. If she still needs to access the office, her lawyer will have to arrange a time with the Senate president's office for Wilkerson to come in.
Several staff members today were busy working in Wilkerson's office. They confirmed that Wilkerson was working inside, but she declined to comment.
"There's a lot of things to go through," said an aide, who declined to provide his name.
An industrial-size trash can full of papers could be seen inside the door. In another office that Wilkerson used across the hallway, documents and boxes were piled high atop a desk.
Wilkerson resigned last week from the office she held for nearly 16 years, stepping down a day after she was indicted by a federal grand jury on eight counts of attempted extortion that stemmed from an undercover FBI operation. The Roxbury Democrat is accused of accepting $23,500 in bribes to help secure a liquor license for a nightclub in her district and to push legislation paving the way for a development in Roxbury.
The charges against her -- which have come complete with photos of her allegedly taking bribes at restaurants around Beacon Hill -- infuriated her Senate colleagues.
It was the second recent resignation by a member of the Senate. Senator J. James Marzilli abruptly resigned last Friday, four months after he was indicted on charges of accosting four women in downtown Lowell.
Three former staff members of the Arlington Democrat are still working inside the fifth-floor office he used to work in. His name has been removed from the door, which now says "Office of the 4th Middlesex District," and staffers now report to the Senate president.
Once Wilkerson's office is cleared of her things, it will be made ready for January's biennial rite by state senators scouring for different offices with more space and better views. Wilkerson will be replaced by Sonia Chang-Diaz, who defeated Wilkerson in the Democratic primary and won the Nov. 4 election.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.