Robert DeLeo (politician)

Robert DeLeo
85th Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
Assumed office
January 27, 2009
Preceded by Salvatore DiMasi
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 19th Suffolk district
Assumed office
January 4, 1995
Preceded by Susan Tracy
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 20th Suffolk district
In office
January 3, 1991  January 4, 1995
Preceded by Alfred Saggese
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1950-03-27) March 27, 1950
Winthrop, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Northeastern University
Suffolk University

Robert A. DeLeo (born March 27, 1950 in Winthrop, Massachusetts)[1] is an American politician from the state of Massachusetts. Since 2009 he has been Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, succeeding Salvatore DiMasi, who resigned due to allegations of an ethics violation.[2]

DeLeo represents the "Nineteenth Suffolk" district in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and before becoming House Speaker, was the chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee. The Nineteenth Suffolk district includes Winthrop and Revere.[3]

In addition to serving as a state representative, DeLeo served as a Winthrop town meeting member from 1977 to 2005 and was a member of the town's board of selectmen from 1978 to 1988.[4]

Early life and education

DeLeo resides in the same house in which he grew up. When he was young, his father, Al, was in charge of a restaurant at Suffolk Downs.[5] Al was often seen around the community including at the Winthrop Golf Club, but "DeLeo never took up the game".[6] DeLeo attended solely Boston area schools, graduating from the Boston Latin School, attaining a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern University and a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School.[4]

Massachusetts House of Representatives

During his time in the Massachusetts House of Representatives between 1990 and 2005, he was known as "an amiable, rank-and-file lawmaker who focused on constituent issues such as toll hikes, the expansion of Logan Airport, and rates charged by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority".[6]

In 2005, Speaker Salvatore DiMasi appointed DeLeo as chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. According to the Globe, "He became so identified with handing out perks to members that earmarks became known as DeLeo Dollars".[6]

Prior to becoming the Speaker of the House, DeLeo had created a reputation for himself as a "consensus-builder", someone who strived to prevent "major flareups while crafting the budget". He does not ideologically identify himself with a large number of issues or legislation, but "his views appear more conservative" than the former speaker, DiMasi. Unlike DiMasi, who was strongly in favor of defending gay marriage rights, DeLeo was originally against same-sex marriage. In 2007 DeLeo may have shown a change in this belief when he voted against the amendment that would have defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Another conservative opinion that DeLeo has is against the "right of women to have an abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother's life".[6]

In April 2011, DeLeo led a vote to remove the health-care related collective bargaining rights of Massachusetts police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other municipal employees. The vote was conducted at 11:30pm in order to avoid protesters. It passed with 111 in favor and 42 opposed.[7]

During the 2014 corruption trial of former probation commissioner John O'Brien, prosecutors alleged that DeLeo had participated in the job-trading as a means of getting elected Speaker, although he was never charged. A number of prominent politicians, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh came out in his defense.[8]

Casino gambling

DeLeo reintroduced the gambling debate to the House of Representatives in his first months as speaker. Gambling legislation introduced under DiMasi had failed. In the beginning of February 2009, DeLeo met with Governor Deval Patrick to discuss policy plans as part of the leadership meetings, where this issue of slot machines and resort casinos first presented itself under DeLeo's leadership. The casino debate was initially supported by the general public; the State House News Service poll at the time showed 57% support for reintroducing the gambling debate.[9]

Towards the end of 2009, DeLeo began to publicly support casinos as a way to increase revenues, and minimize the effects of the economic downturn. DeLeo stated in an interview with The Boston Globe, "I'm hoping this will not just be a gaming bill, but also an economic development one".[10] By December 2009, DeLeo had shown favor to putting slot machines in the state's four racetracks; Patrick, however, had shown opposition along with Senate President Therese Murray who stated that her preference was resort casinos. DeLeo stated that the slot machines were a "natural progression" to casinos, and they would have the advantage of being installed quickly. The conflict between DeLeo and Patrick was further exacerbated by the fact that against Patrick's wishes the debate had been postponed until 2010. The gambling debate became complicated further by the economic recession which had taken its toll on the casino industry.[11]

On March 4, 2010, DeLeo announced his blueprint for expanded gambling to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. His plan included two resort casinos and 3,000 slot machines at the state's four racetracks. DeLeo added that the legislation would add jobs and part of the revenue would be put aside for capital investments for Massachusetts businesses. While Patrick had not stated that he would veto legislation which included slots at racetracks, he had made it clear that he was not in favor of adding slots to the gaming debate.[12]

As the debate continued tensions between Patrick and DeLeo grew over the issue of slots in the racetracks, by July 2010 Patrick had called the addition of slots "a no bid contract" that would give a few developers all of the gaming contracts for slots. DeLeo retorted that his plan for expanded gaming was Massachusetts' best way to deal with the revenue shortfalls, and lack of jobs.[13] At this point, a number of groups opposed to the expanded gaming bill had gained a voice on the state level and the whole process began to lose steam.

Over the next few months the debate shrank from two casinos and four tracks to two casinos and one track at which point Patrick was still unwilling to compromise. By August, DeLeo had entrenched himself into the position of continuing to push for the bill while simultaneously rejecting any additional compromises. Patrick had rejected the measure, and with the end of the full session and the majority of the Legislature on summer break it became apparent that the bill would not survive.[14]

Personal life

He is the father of two children, Robbie and Rachele.[6]


  1. 2001–2002 Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  2. Estes, Andrea (January 29, 2009). "Vowing reform, DeLeo takes reins in House". The Boston Globe. p. B3.
  3. Resnek, Joshua (April 13, 2007). "Petruccelli backing big moves for local beaches". Winthrop Transcript.
  4. 1 2 Massachusetts Legislature profile
  5. Jenna Russell. (December 19, 2009). "DeLeo does it his way: A low-key speaker, a House divided". The Boston Globe, p. A1. Retrieved March 18, 2011, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 1924425331).
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Matt Viser. (January 27, 2009). "Picking a more conservative speaker Low-key DeLeo is a man of House". The Boston Globe, p. B1. Retrieved March 18, 2011, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 1633614031)
  7. Strassel, Kimberley A. (April 29, 2011). "Union busting". The Wall Street Journal.
  8. Bernstein, David. "Mayor Marty Walsh Declares John O'Brien Not Guilty". Boston Magazine. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  9. Matt Viser. (February 3, 2009). "Casinos, slots back on state agenda Patrick, DeLeo agree to renew gambling debate". The Boston Globe, p. B1. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 1637499211).
  10. Matt Viser. (September 19, 2009). "Casinos get boost as DeLeo signs on; Joins Patrick, Murray in push for gaming". The Boston Globe, p. B1. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 1862842661).
  11. Matt Viser. (December 30, 2009). "Patrick, DeLeo divided on track slot machines; Harmful effects worry governor". The Boston Globe, p. B1. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 1929811501).
  12. Michael Levenson. (March 4, 2010). "DeLeo to pitch for slots, casinos; Sees gambling at tracks, resorts Revenues to boost jobs, speaker says". The Boston Globe, B1. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 1975486141).
  13. Noah Bierman. (July 8, 2010). "Patrick calls idea of slots at track a gift to developers". The Boston Globe, p. B1. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 2075081941).
  14. Frank Phillips and Noah Bierman. (August 4, 2010). "No more compromises on slots, DeLeo says; Override vote called unlikely". The Boston Globe, p. B1. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 2099419681).
Massachusetts House of Representatives
Preceded by
Salvatore DiMasi
Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
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