House Speaker Robert DeLeo has scheduled a special Democratic caucus tomorrow to remove his majority whip, Charles A. Murphy, according to legislative sources.
DeLeo plans to use the session to offer a change in a number of leadership posts, but his top priority is to fire Murphy. Murphy has infuriated the speaker with comments to House members that an ongoing federal investigation could rock the House and topple the speaker and other top legislative leaders and that he would be ready to take over the reins.
It is not clear who he will put into the position of majority whip, a post that is third in line behind the speaker. Murphy, a Burlington Democrat and an ex-Marine whose hard charging style has ruffled feathers in the political world of Beacon Hill, has for several years talked to colleagues about succeeding DeLeo.
Murphy has strongly denied he has been disloyal. He sent a letter to his Democratic colleagues two weeks saying he would fight any move to remove him. His letter was provoked by a Globe story which outlines the anger that DeLeo felt towards his onetime ways and means chairman.
There is no evidence that DeLeo is the focus of the probe that is looking into allegations raised in a Globe Spotlight series that described how the probation department gave out patronage jobs to legislators as they increased its budget and staffing.
DeLeo has already shaken up his leadership once since taking over the speaker’s office in early 2009.
It happened last January when he removed Murphy as chairman of the House Ways and Means committee – a powerful perch that has often been used to win the speaker’s post. Sources close to DeLeo said Murphy had angered the speaker because he had not followed through on or even paid attention to some of major priorities.
Some of his friends say that Murphy’s failure to work as a team with DeLeo during that period reflects his lack of skills needed to work at the highest levels of Beacon Hill politics.