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No fault found in House incident

Report by speaker on late-night party

Speaker Robert DeLeo cleared a Braintree lawmaker. Speaker Robert DeLeo cleared a Braintree lawmaker.
By Michael Levenson
Globe Staff / June 15, 2011
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House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo acknowledged yesterday that lawmakers and aides were drinking beer in his office hours after approving a $30.5 billion budget that slashed services across state government.

DeLeo made the concession as he cleared one lawmaker, Representative Mark J. Cusack, of any wrongdoing after Cusack was found with another lawmaker’s aide in the House chamber.

In a statement, DeLeo said his office’s investigation of Cusack, a 26-year-old freshman Democrat, and the female aide “concluded that they did not violate any law, House rule, or House personnel policy, and, most importantly, that there was no inappropriate behavior by either Representative Cusack or the staffer involved.’’

DeLeo, 61, added that he had gone home for the night and did not attend what he termed the “postbudget gathering’’ in his ornate suite on April 28. “While I do not condone the inappropriate use of alcohol in the State House, I expect all members and staff of the House to exercise common sense and act responsibly at all times,’’ DeLeo said.

The House chamber is typically locked after hours, and DeLeo said Cusack and the aide were able to enter the chamber through his private door and were inside for “no more than three to four minutes.’’ The speaker said that, as a result of his investigation, he has ordered his staff to lock that door after hours.

“With respect to the unnecessary presence of individuals in the chamber during nonbusiness hours, Representative Cusack has apologized to me; and I have accepted that apology,’’ DeLeo said. “Representative Cusack has also apologized to others affected by this matter; and it is my understanding that those apologies have been accepted, as well.’’

In his own statement released minutes after DeLeo’s, Cusack, who represents Braintree and parts of Randolph and Holbrook, said he was thankful that the speaker “acted swiftly in confirming that no inappropriate behavior occurred.’’

“I have spoken with everyone involved in this situation and have apologized for any undue attention or aggravation this has caused,’’ he said. “I apologize to my family, friends, colleagues, and constituents for any appearance of impropriety.’’

Cusack said he will “work each and every day to best serve my district and ensure their voice is heard on Beacon Hill.

“This issue has been difficult for me and my family, and we now consider the matter closed,’’ he said.

This spring’s late-night revelry recalled an infamous House session 11 years ago, when lawmakers drank beer and chanted “Toga!’’ during an all-night budget debate.

In his statement, DeLeo sought to convey his deep reverence for the House and its legacy.

“The House chamber belongs to the people of Massachusetts,’’ he said. “It is a place where we make laws and conduct the people’s business. It is a place where important occasions and addresses are marked by ceremony, and its traditions span much of the Bay State’s history.

“While no rules, regulations or laws were broken, Representative Cusack and I both agree that as a matter of policy, the chamber should be reserved for official business and ceremony only.’’

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