Public report required if panel finds Rep. Henriquez violated rules

By 
Michael Norton and Andy Metzger, State House News Service
Jan. 29, 2014

With hearings ongoing, the House will not take any action during its formal session Wednesday on Rep. Carlos Henriquez, who is incarcerated and appealing his conviction by a jury on two counts of assault and battery.

“Not today,” Speaker Robert DeLeo said when asked if the House would take action on the Henriquez matter. Before being hustled onto an elevator by an aide, DeLeo said, “He’s still at hearings.”

With House Ethics Committee members reviewing the case of Henriquez, the Dorchester Democrat serving a six-month jail sentence, House rules lay out a process under which the committee may file a public report.

While the committee’s deliberations are confidential, the rules specify that if an alleged violation of House ethics rules is deemed to have merit by a majority vote of the committee’s members, the committee shall file a report with the House clerk and the report “shall be a public document.”

The rules prohibit the committee from disclosing any allegation deemed “frivolous or without merit.”

If the committee finds House ethics rules have been violated, they may vote in the case of a legislator to recommend a reprimand, censure, removal from a chairmanship or other position of authority, or expulsion.

On the day of his conviction and sentencing, DeLeo and several other members of the House, as well as Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, urged Henriquez to resign.

Henriquez has resisted those calls and his attorney has filed an appeal of the jury’s verdict.

Henriquez was transported to the State House Friday and again on Tuesday to appear before the committee. A Tweet posted under Henriquez’s account Tuesday urged residents of Roxbury who believe the lawmaker has helped the community to share their support with the speaker. A spokesman for the Middlesex County sheriff said inmates do not have access to the Internet or Twitter while in custody.

The House on Wednesday afternoon is holding its only scheduled formal session this week. The clerk's office late Wednesday morning had not received any report from the committee.

DeLeo plans to address his colleagues Wednesday about House priorities. The House is also scheduled to consider a $12.4 billion transportation bond bill, with 258 amendments pending to that legislation.

Norfolk Republican Shawn Dooley was sworn in just before 1 p.m. by Gov. Deval Patrick. Dooley won a special election to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Dan Winslow, also a Republican.

“The theme of my campaign was putting people before politics,” Dooley said during remarks to the House. “And that will continue to be the mantra of my office in this illustrious building. Putting the needs of all people first is the only way we can truly serve.”