Thomas Finneran – Massachusetts House of Representatives Candidate
Thomas Finneran possesses a steely stare that conveys anger even when he’s trying not to show it, yet also offers up an infectious laughter from deep within himself.
He resigned his position as House speaker after being indicted on federal charges of lying and obstruction related to redistricting laws passed during his time as speaker.
Early Life and Education
Finneran’s political views are informed by his experience living in Dorchester and South Boston working-class neighborhoods, and their working class outlook. Partisan polarization in Congress, he feels, is simply part of an expanding democracy.
Finneran grew up in a family enduring financial difficulties that didn’t allow for much frivolity. He attended public schools before eventually receiving both his Bachelor of Arts from Northeastern University and Law degree from Boston College.
Many in the House anticipate that Finneran will preside over an institution in which membership has less power than ever, privately citing his non-responsive style as committee chair and his refusal to recognize Loyal Voke supporters on the floor of the House last year as indicators. Yet Finneran remains popular with voters; an impartial judge reinstated his pension in 2015 despite it having nothing to do with redistricting case that forced his resignation as Speaker in 2004.
Finneran operates an established law practice and owns a house on Cape Cod with his wife. Together they have two daughters.
He has extensive experience using application systems for inventory control, sales order processing, human resource, financial and project management – as well as patent experience.
Finneran’s legislative colleagues unanimously praise him as fair, honest and straightforward – traits which have enabled him to bridge racial gaps. Charles Walker a black law professor who graduated with Finneran from Boston College in 1973 recalls how Finneran quickly engaged him in discussions of integration and busing early in their time at law school; Finneran resented being forced into these conversations despite believing that race relations in Boston weren’t as restrictive as some media portrayals portrayed them to be.
Achievement and Honors
One of Finneran’s crowning achievements has been striking a balance between leadership and inclusiveness during last year’s budget crisis. Unlike his predecessor Charles Flaherty, Finneran wasn’t afraid to propose cutting entitlement programs, unlike him.
Finneran was open about both his personal struggles as well as those he represented. According to law school classmate Charles Walker, this honesty helped bridge racial gaps.
After replacing Flaherty due to his legal troubles, Finneran broke some unwritten rules when he assumed the Speakership. He used redistricting that some believed was designed to take out critics – including merging Newton primary districts together and forcing Reps Kay Khan and Ruth Balser into running against each other for election. Finneran was found guilty in 2007 of lying under oath during redistricting proceedings and had his pension taken away by the state retirement board; however in 2015 Boston Municipal Court Judge restored it and reinstated it annually thereafter.
Finneran, a widower who enjoys spending his free time between Palm Beach, Florida and Larchmont, New York, enjoys the company of his daughter Karen Leslie Hamilton of Palm Beach; and two sons Tom Mahoney (of Milton).
He harbors a long-held ambition of revitalizing the House, to transform it into an institution with modern business-like procedures, ethics and productivity – and hope of improving Beacon Hill’s image.
Charles Walker, an old law school classmate and later colleague of Finneran’s, recalls him approaching race issues directly and unashamedly. Walker recalls Finneran having an authoritative presence while also possessing the ability to deliver an eye-opening laughter that cut through chamber noise to touch voters directly.
Finneran dedicated himself to business but his heart lay with charitable giving. He contributed generously to many causes including Villanova University; Inner City Scholarship Fund which offers tuition for Catholic students who otherwise could not afford it; MD Anderson Cancer Center and American Ireland Fund as well as supporting Sacred Heart School in Palm Beach Florida.
He was charged with obstruction of justice in 2005, but eventually plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for federal prosecutors dropping perjury charges against him. As part of this deal he received 18 months probation and fine. Furthermore he was ordered not to seek elected office within five years (resigning his position as speaker of Massachusetts House of Representatives in September 2004).