Saturday, 2:15 PM
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff
Embattled House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi said in an interview this afternoon that he will resign from the Legislature on Tuesday, saying he is proud of his record and is leaving with his ''head high.''
DiMasi, who has endured public scrutiny because of influence-peddling allegations involving close his friends, was sending a letter to his House colleagues tonight informing them of his decision.
Despite the swirl of ethics controversies, he insisted in the interview with the Globe that he is leaving with a clear conscience as he steps down from the powerful Beacon Hill position he has held since October 2004. He was first elected to his House seat representing the North End of Boston in 1978.
He said he made his final decision to leave today after consulting with his wife, Deborah, and their children.
''My head is held high and I am proud of my record. That is how I am leaving,'' DiMasi said. He blamed much of the ethical controversies on ''powerful special interests'' particularly the gambling industry which he had blocked in its efforts to legalize casinos.
''They are going to be pretty happy by the fact I won't be here,'' he said of the casino industry and its stable of high paid lobbyists.
DiMasi denied that the ethics issues that have tarnished his public image are playing a role in his departure. He said that he concluded since his Jan. 7 re-election as speaker that he would leave sometime during his current term and that, with the all the serious fiscal issues facing the state, he needed to step aside for a new speaker who would be fully engaged.
DiMasi is expected to file for his state pension. With his more than 30-years as a state employee, he will get about three quarters of his average pay over he past three years. He now makes $93,000 a year.
DiMasi said he will call for a Democratic caucus for Wednesday to choose his successor. He will also give a farewell address to the full House on Tuesday. He said his ''dream'' is to work in the heath care industry.
The Boston Democrat would not comment specifically on the investigations and charges that have been leveled against his close associates and has threatened his grip on the House. But he insisted that he has done nothing wrong and that much of his troubles have been stirred by those forces whom he battled over his four-year tenure.
''Certain people who are very powerful and have great influence turn against you,'' DiMasi said when asked about the ethical issues and investigations. He instead wanted to point to what he says is a substantial record that includes protecting gay marriage, killing Governor Deval Patrick's proposal to license three casinos, and shaping the landmark health care law. ''That is why you are attacked and criticized. It is part of the territory. It is not anything new,'' he said.
DiMasi's depature is spurring a fierce, behind-the-scences fight among House members vying to succeed him.
The two most likely successors are Ways and Means chairman, Robert A. DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, and Rogers, a Norwood Democrat. Both men have said in the last several days that they are confident that they have the majority votes in the 160 member House. Their battle will likely be decided in the party caucus which will held as early as Monday. The Republicans hold only 16 seats and would play a role if DeLeo or Rogers are unable to put together a majority among their Democratic colleagues.