A week after the FBI and IRS raided his Canton law office, Sen. Brian Joyce of Milton announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election.
The announcement came on the same day that one state representative in his district appeared to be gearing up for a campaign.
Joyce, who has been under a cloud of suspicion following multiple reports in the Boston Globe questioning the longtime senator's ethics, said nothing about his immediate future on Beacon Hill, and only hinted at allegations against him.
"I have worked hard for Milton and achieved results, while always trying to abide by the rules. I will continue to work hard for Milton and all of the district but will not seek re-election," the senator said in a statement first published by the Milton Times and later Tweeted by Joyce with a link to the newspaper.
— Sen. Brian A. Joyce (@BrianAJoyce) February 23, 2016
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"On a personal note, Mary and I are very touched by the many kind gestures of support and love from our neighbors and friends," he continued. Neither Joyce nor his spokeswoman could immediately be reached for comment.
Federal agents raided Joyce's Canton law offices last Wednesday as part of a "court authorized activity" that came after Joyce had settled with campaign finance regulators to resolve questions about improper accounting and use of campaign funds.
The senator has also been the subject of media reports questioning the propriety of a "barter" arrangement with a Randolph dry cleaner for free services and his use of influence as a state politician to benefit his legal clients. The Office of Campaign and Political Finance previously declined to take further action after investigating a discount Joyce received on designer sunglasses purchased as gift for his fellow senators from a business in his district.
The Massachusetts Republican Party and others have called for Joyce's immediate resignation. Many on Beacon Hill, including Gov. Charlie Baker and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, have stopped short of trying to push Joyce out, saying they hope to wait for the results of investigations.
Joyce has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Joyce's fall could be seen as a blow to Rosenberg, who pulled the nine-term Democratic senator into his senior leadership team last year as an assistant majority leader. Joyce temporarily stepped down from that post last spring after requesting, at Rosenberg's urging, that the Ethics Commission investigate claims that he had improperly lobbied insurance regulators on behalf of an energy client.
Hours before Joyce issued his statement, Secretary of State William Galvin's office confirmed that fellow Milton Democrat Rep. Walter Timilty, who has served in the House going on 18 years, had pulled nomination papers Tuesday to potentially challenge the embattled incumbent.
It's unclear whether the threat of a primary challenge contributed to Joyce's decision, or if Timilty knew that Joyce was planning to step aside. Timilty did not respond to a phone call on Tuesday afternoon, and has declined to return numerous messages left for him at his office and on his cell phone from the News Service over that past weeks amidst rumblings that he was considering challenging Joyce.
Joyce's Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth Senate district seat includes Avon, Canton, Milton, Randolph, Stoughton, West Bridgewater and parts of Braintree, Sharon, Easton and East Bridgewater. Timilty's cousin James Timilty, of Walpole, already serves in the Senate.
Rosenberg released a statement Tuesday afternoon. "Senator Joyce has served the constituents of his district for more than 20 years," he said. "A strong supporter of public education, throughout his career he fought to secure funding for public school buildings across his district. In addition, he cared deeply for senior citizens and protecting the disabled. He took tough votes against public opinion on numerous issues including marriage equality and the death penalty. I wish him well in his future endeavors."
It has been an honor to serve the residents of the Norfolk, Bristol, & Plymouth District pic.twitter.com/gOZyySKUBT— Sen. Brian A. Joyce (@BrianAJoyce) February 23, 2016