Bill Keating (politician)

William R. Keating
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 9th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Stephen F. Lynch
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 10th district
In office
January 3, 2011  January 3, 2013
Preceded by Bill Delahunt
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
District Attorney of Norfolk County
In office
January 3, 1999  January 3, 2011
Preceded by Jeffrey A. Locke
Succeeded by Michael Morrissey
Member of the Massachusetts Senate
from the Norfolk, Bristol, and Plymouth district
In office
January 3, 1985  January 3, 1999
Preceded by Joseph Timilty
Succeeded by Jo Ann Sprague
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 8th Norfolk district
In office
January 3, 1979  January 3, 1985
Preceded by Andrew Card
Succeeded by Marjorie Clapprood
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 19th Norfolk district
In office
January 3, 1977  January 3, 1979
Preceded by Laurence Buxbaum
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born William Richard Keating
(1952-09-06) September 6, 1952
Norwood, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Tevis
Children 2
Alma mater Boston College (B.A., M.B.A.)
Suffolk University (J.D.)
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]

William Richard "Bill" Keating (born September 6, 1952) is an American politician who has served as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts since 2011. He is a Democrat representing the state's 9th district which includes Cape Cod and the South Coast. Keating raised his profile advocating for criminal justice issues in the state legislature before becoming district attorney (DA) of Norfolk County, where he served three terms prior to his election to Congress.

Born and raised in Norwood, Massachusetts, Keating "took a traditional route to politics,"[2] attending Boston College and Suffolk University Law School. As a resident of Sharon he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1976 and went on to serve in the state Senate from 1985 to 1999. He authored numerous bills signed into law concerning taxation, drug crime, and sentencing reform. His attempted overthrow of Senate President William M. Bulger in 1994 was a failure but boosted his local name recognition, which contributed to his success in the 1998 election for DA.

Keating followed the path of former Norfolk District Attorney Bill Delahunt to Congress, winning election in 2010 to represent the 10th district. In 2012, after redistricting combined his district with that of fellow incumbent Stephen Lynch, Keating chose to run in the "incumbent-free" 9th district, where he was elected to a second term. As of the 113th Congress (2013–2014), Keating sits on the House Homeland Security Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee. Much of his work has focused on domestic issues central to his district, such as the fishing industry and nuclear safety.

Early life, education, and law career

Keating was born in Norwood, Massachusetts in 1952 to Anna (née Welch) and William B. Keating. Graduating from Sharon High School, Keating enrolled in Boston College where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1974, and his Masters of Business Administration in 1982. In 1985 Keating earned his Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School and passed the bar exam. Keating later became a partner at the law firm of Keating & Fishman.[3][4]

Massachusetts General Court

House of Representatives

In 1977 Keating was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 19th Norfolk district, where he served for a year, and was later elected from the 8th Norfolk district, serving from 1979 to 1984.[3][5] He was a supporter of George Keverian in his successful 1985 effort to overthrow Thomas W. McGee as Speaker of the House.[2] By the end of his House tenure, Keating became vice chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee.[6]


In 1984, state Sen. Joseph F. Timilty resigned his Norfolk and Suffolk seat to pursue a career in private law, and Keating became the only major Democratic contender for the office. In the general election he faced Republican Marion Boch, who promoted a plan for dramatic cuts to legislators' pay and hours, invoking the energy of the Ronald Reagan campaign. Keating focused his campaign on expanding resources for crime prevention and education, tailoring his message to the Boston constituency he would pick up as a senator.[6] He was successful, winning about 64 percent of the vote, and was sworn in the following January.[7]

In his first year he was named Senate chairman of the joint Public Safety Committee, where he led the legislative action for a statewide seat belt law pushed by Governor Michael Dukakis.[8] He authored a drug sentencing reform package signed into law in 1988, lowering thresholds for possession charges and establishing new minimum sentences, including a one-year minimum sentence for first-time possession of cocaine or PCP "with intent to distribute".[9] The latter provision was widely derided by criminal justice authorities as excessively strict and vaguely worded.[10]

Redistricting eventually placed Keating in the Norfolk and Bristol seat (1989–1994).[3][5] As a vice chairman of the joint Criminal Justice Committee, Keating was a lead author of a 1991 sentencing reform bill, signed into law by Governor William Weld, that made it easier to try juveniles as adults and pass harsher sentences in the case of major crimes, especially murder. "What is occurring is a shift away from the rehabilitative stance to a focus on the seriousness of the crime committed by the juvenile," said Keating.[11][12] In 1992, as co-chairman of the Taxation Committee, he successfully pushed a proposal to phase out the Massachusetts estate tax.[13][14]

In 1994 Keating led a group of liberals in a failed coup to remove state Senate President William Bulger, a fellow Democrat, from his position. Keating, a staunch liberal relative to the more socially conservative Bulger, sought to reform the Senate rules to greatly reduce the president's power. Bulger, who had held the Senate gavel for 15 years, exerted strict control over the body's operations, but was gradually losing his power base with new crops of Democratic freshmen replacing his longtime allies.[2] Keating's campaign failed, but he said during his 2010 election campaign: "The thought that I took on the most powerful person in Massachusetts, risking my whole career, a member of my own party, is something that is resonating in this campaign, that helps define me as independent."[15]

Further redistricting landed Keating in the Norfolk, Bristol, and Plymouth district from 1995 to 1998.[3][5] Throughout his Senate tenure, Keating served as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Chairman of the Committee on Taxation, and Vice Chairman of the Committee on Criminal Justice; he also served as the Senate Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and Chairman of the Steering and Policy Committee.[4]

District attorney

Speculation emerged in early 1997 that Keating was planning a run for district attorney (DA) of Norfolk County.[16] He faced two former Norfolk assistant DAs, John J. Corrigan and William P. O'Donnell, in the Democratic primary. Keating, whose name recognition was boosted by the attempted Bulger coup, presented his work on public safety, criminal justice, and judiciary committees as a strength, while the other candidates pointed to his lack of courtroom experience as a disqualifier. While Keating held a part-time law practice during his legislative career, he lacked exposure to the criminal cases handled by the DA's office.[17] After winning the Democratic nomination, Keating faced incumbent DA Jeffrey A. Locke in the November 1998 general election. Locke, a Republican, had been appointed to the position by Governor Weld the previous year after the resignation of Bill Delahunt. With years of experience as a prosecutor, Locke portrayed Keating as a career politician and echoed his primary opponents' criticism of his experience. Keating highlighted a range of endorsements from police organizations, and from Delahunt, as evidence of his criminal justice qualifications. Aided by a Democratic-leaning electorate, Keating won the election with around 55 percent of the vote.[18]

Upon taking office in January 1999, he immediately replaced two top officials, and one-third of the remaining staff were replaced or left voluntarily. Press reports criticized the move as overly political and aggressive, particularly as it affected ongoing trials.[19][20] In his first year he founded the Norfolk Anti-Crime Council, a 35-member forum for judicial officers, police, and other local parties to discuss and co-ordinate anti-crime strategies. He established a pilot program for a drug court under Quincy District Court, which would provide an alternative sentencing pathway for nonviolent drug offenders, in an effort to reduce court backlogs and lower recidivism rates. He also expanded his office's juvenile crime unit.[19] In late 2000 he laid the groundwork for the Norfolk Country Children's Advocacy Center, based on similar programs in Middlesex and Suffolk counties,[21] and it was fully established the following year.[22] Keating's office also began an anti-bullying program in spring 2001.[23] In 2002, his office was the first in Massachusetts to win a murder conviction in a case that lacked a victim's body.[24]

In advance of the 2002 elections, he was seen as a likely contender to succeed deceased Rep. Joe Moakley in the U.S. House of Representatives, but he opted to run for a second term as DA instead,[25] and was unopposed for re-election.[26] He won a third term, still unopposed, in 2006.[27]

U.S. House of Representatives

Massachusetts's 10th congressional district, during Keating's tenure as it Representative. The district contained all of Cape Cod.


With incumbent U.S. Representative Bill Delahunt choosing to retire, Keating declared his candidacy in the 2010 congressional election. In order to run for Delahunt's 10th district seat, Keating moved from his longtime home in Sharon (located in the neighboring 4th district) to a rental property in Quincy.[28] On September 14, he won the Democratic primary against state senator Robert O'Leary.[29] Keating faced Republican state Representative Jeff Perry in the general election. In the wake of the Tea Party movement and the election of Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown, the campaign was unusually close for a modern Massachusetts race, which would normally skew heavily Democratic. The Keating campaign largely focused on a 1991 incident during Perry's tenure as a police sergeant, in which a teenage girl had been illegally strip-searched by another officer while Perry was on the scene. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran a widely aired advertisement highlighting the incident and challenging Perry's character.[30] With 47 percent of the vote, Keating defeated Perry (42 percent) and two independents, in the November 2 election.[31]

With the state poised to lose a congressional seat after the 2010 census, lawmakers released a redistricting plan in November 2011 that placed Keating into the same congressional district as Stephen Lynch.[32] Under the plan, the cities of Quincy and other upper South Shore towns were placed into Lynch's district, potentially forcing a primary between the two lawmakers. Rather than challenge Lynch, Keating chose to move to his summer home on Cape Cod in order to run in an "incumbent-free" district. Keating defeated Bristol County District Attorney Samuel Sutter in the September 6 Democratic primary, and in November 2012 he defeated Republican Christopher Sheldon to win a second term in the U.S. House.


Keating giving a speech in October 2010

Keating is considered a liberal by national standards. In 2012, the National Journal ranked Keating as "the 84th most liberal member of the House," but second only to Stephen Lynch as the most conservative of the Massachusetts House delegation.[33]

Economic issues and budget

Issues specific to his South Coast and Cape Cod–based district, such as maritime policy, have been a major target of Keating's work. In June 2012, he organized the Federal Fishing Advisory Board, a body to research and address fisheries management concerns between lawmakers and industry stakeholders.[34] In 2012 he and his Massachusetts peers successfully pushed the Commerce Department to issue a federal disaster declaration for fisheries in the northeastern U.S., which would open up the opportunity for financial aid.[35] In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he proposed to redirect $111 million of relief funding to fisheries throughout the country, although the proposal was not adopted by the House Rules Committee.[36]

When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission considered a 20-year contract extension for the Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station in Plymouth in mid-2012, Keating repeatedly took to the press. He at first declined to take a position on the plant's re-authorization, stating, "I wouldn't be the right person to ask and that's why we have regulatory authorities and people with expertise to deal with that."[37] When the commission voted to renew the license, Keating joined other Massachusetts politicians in deriding the decision as premature.[38] During a labor strike later in the year, Keating joined U.S. Representative Ed Markey in challenging the qualifications of the plant's replacement workers.[39]

Along with U.S. Senator John Kerry, Keating helped to finalize the cleanup and sale of portions of a defunct naval air base in South Weymouth to private developers. The deal, reached in November 2011, was a linchpin for the SouthField development project.[40]

Keating has stressed his opposition to Social Security reductions such as raising the retirement age or privatizing the program,[41][42] and supported a cost-of-living adjustment announced by the Social Security Administration in 2011.[43]

In 2011, Keating had a 100% voting record with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO), backing all 29 endorsed bills.[44] During 2012, Keating voted in favor of 10 of 12 AFL-CIO backed bills, with the two opposing votes dealing with small business startups and swap dealer exclusions.[45] Overall, Keating's has support 95% of AFL-CIO endorsed legislation. Keating also received an 0% rating from the anti-union[46] He voted "nay" on the NLRB Prohibitions Bill in November 2011.[47]

Committee assignments
113th Congress (2013–15)[48]

Foreign affairs and defense

Keating sits on the House Homeland Security Committee as well as the Foreign Affairs Committee, where he is the ranking member of the Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats Subcommittee. He joined a Congressional delegation to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, shortly after the 2011 execution of Osama Bin Laden.[49] After TSA officers in Boston were accused of racial profiling in 2012, he requested a Homeland Security Committee hearing into the accusations.[50]

Social issues

A Women's Advisory Board for the 10th Congressional District was founded by Keating in January 2011, with hopes of gaining insight into how best to serve the women in the 10th District.[51] From October 18 to October 21, 2011, he hosted "Women's Week" in the district, with events focusing on topics such as breast cancer awareness, domestic violence, and female entrepreneurship.[52]

Keating is pro-choice,[42] and during his tenure in the House has voted against the Protect Life Act and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.[53] In 2010, Keating received a rating of 0% from Massachusetts Citizens for Life. In 1997, he was rated 100% by NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, and during the same year, he received a 100% rating from the Massachusetts National Organization for Women.[54]

Keating is a supporter of gay rights. He supported ending the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy and has promised to push nationwide anti-discrimination laws and marriage rights for gays and lesbians.[42] In July 2011, he recorded a video supporting LGBT youth in Massachusetts in conjunction with other members of Massachusetts' Congressional Delegation and the It Gets Better Project.[55]

During his 2010 campaign for the United States House, he promised to increase federal firearm regulations.[56] His proposed changes included closing a loophole that allows people on the FBI Terrorist Watch List to buy guns and requiring child safety trigger locks on all guns sold in the US.[56] Keating voted "nay" on a bill to require any state offering right-to-carry permits to recognize such permits issued in other states.[57]


Keating and Rep. Aaron Schock jointly introduced the Equitable Access to Care and Health Act (H.R. 1814; 113th Congress) on April 29, 2013. The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code, with respect to minimum essential health care coverage requirements added by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to allow an additional religious exemption from such requirements for individuals whose sincerely held religious beliefs would cause them to object to medical health care provided under such coverage.[58] Individuals could file an affidavit to get this exemption, but would lose the exemption if they went on to later use healthcare.[59] Schock and Keating wrote a letter in support of their bill saying, "we believe the EACH Act balances a respect for religious diversity against the need to prevent fraud and abuse."[59]

Personal life

Keating and his wife Tevis live in Bourne, Massachusetts. They have two children: Kristen and Patrick.[3]


  1. 1 2 3 Lehigh, Scot; Phillips, Frank (October 26, 1993). "Keating a former team player now challenging the system". Boston Globe.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "GPO Massachusetts' Bio's" (PDF). United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  3. 1 2 "Biography". Norfolk District Attorney's Office. Archived from the original on December 22, 2010.
  4. 1 2 3 "U.S. House District 9 Dem. Primary: Bill Keating". WHDH (TV). September 5, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  5. 1 2 Negri, Gloria (August 31, 1984). "Senate district sees power shift". The Boston Globe.
  6. "ELECTION '84 / State races - the tabulations". The Boston Globe. November 8, 1984.
  7. Blake, Andrew (September 19, 1985). "Senate OK's mandatory seat belt law; approval by Dukakis expected soon". The Boston Globe.
  8. Sean Murphy & Diego Ribadeneira (July 15, 1988). "'Sully, that's the guy who shot me!'". The Boston Globe.
  9. Cullen, Kevin (September 10, 1988). "Strict new drug law a puzzle to authorities". The Boston Globe.
  10. McNiff, Brian S. (December 31, 1991). "Juvenile-offender bill passes; Bay State lawmakers close out". Telegram & Gazette. Worcester, Massachusetts.
  11. Connolly, Robert (December 31, 1991). "State slams jail door on youth killers Lawmakers pass tough mandatory sentences". Boston Herald.
  12. Howe, Peter J. (June 23, 1992). "Bulger, Locke make a deal to eliminate estate tax". The Boston Globe.
  13. Hanafin, Teresa M. (September 19, 1992). "Elimination of estate tax starts". The Boston Globe.
  14. "William Keating (D-Mass.)". The Washington Post. July 23, 2012.
  15. Aucoin, Don (February 17, 1997). "State Senate may face a turbulent year; many members eyeing run for higher office". The Boston Globe.
  16. Laidler, John (August 30, 1998). "Candidates for Norfolk DA outline their goals". The Boston Globe.
  17. Laidler, John (November 4, 1998). "Keating unseats Locke; Coakley takes Middlesex". The Boston Globe.
  18. 1 2 Laidler, John (February 20, 2000). "Keating on accomplishments, goals after year as Norfolk DA". The Boston Globe.
  19. Ellen O'Brien & John Ellement (January 6, 1999). "Impact of politics is felt in slay case; fired prosecutor opts out of retrial". The Boston Globe.
  20. Laidler, John (January 28, 2001). "3d child advocacy center is in the works". The Boston Globe.
  21. Laidler, John (November 2, 2003). "Hospital site may be home to child center; DA seeking to relocate advocacy unit". The Boston Globe.
  22. Redd, C. Kalimah (November 20, 2003). "Schools try to keep bullying in check; study backs prevention programs". The Boston Globe.
  23. Ellement, Franci R. (June 8, 2009). "Mystery a case of murder, DA says: 2 men charged; worker missing". The Boston Globe.
  24. Laidler, John (April 29, 2001). "Keating denies interest in Congress". The Boston Globe.
  25. Massachusetts Election Statistics. Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. 2002. p. 415.
  26. Massachusetts Election Statistics. Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. 2006. p. 401.
  27. Preer, Robert (January 29, 2012). "Redrawn district complicates Keating's bid for reelection". Boston Globe.
  28. Johnson, O'Ryan (March 11, 2010). "DA William Keating won't run for reelection". Boston Herald.
  29. Lorber, Janie (October 7, 2010). "Democrats Defend Mass. Seat Once Deemed Safe". The Caucus (The New York Times).
  30. "Massachusetts – Election Results 2010". The New York Times.
  31. " new District Maps". Massachusetts State Legislature. 2011-11-07.
  32. "Senate Candidate Lynch Rated Most Conservative Rep. in Mass.". National Journal. February 21, 2013.
  33. Gaines, Richard (June 20, 2012). "Lawmakers forms new fishery research panel". Gloucester Times.
  34. Bidgood, Jess; Johnson, Kirk (September 13, 2012). "U.S. Declares a Disaster for Fishery in Northeast". The New York Times.
  35. Uberti, David (January 16, 2013). "Bid to link fishermen's aid to storm bill fails". The Boston Globe.
  36. Adams, Steve (March 14, 2012). "Rep. William Keating not ready to take side in Pilgrim debate". The Patriot Ledger.
  37. Burrell, Chris (May 26, 2012). "Anger, acceptance about Pilgrim plant license renewal". The Patriot Ledger.
  38. Chesto, Jon (August 1, 2012). "Congressmen 'troubled' by NRC response to request about Pilgrim". The Patriot Ledger.
  39. Ross, Casey (November 15, 2011). "Deal reached on air base land". The Boston Globe.
  40. "10th Congressional District - Bill Keating, D-Quincy". 9 September 2010.
  41. 1 2 3 "Issue Positions (Political Courage Test) Representative William "Bill" R. Keating". Project VoteSmart. 2011-11-19.
  42. "Keating Statement on Social Security COLA". Project VoteSmart. 2011-11-19.
  43. "Rep. William R. Keating's 2011 AFL-CIO Scorecard". AFL-CIO. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  44. "Rep. William R. Keating's 2012 AFL-CIO Scorecard". AFL-CIO. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  45. "Rep. William R. Keating's Labor Scorecard". Workplace Choice. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  46. "Key Votes Labor Representative William "Bill" R. Keating". Project VoteSmart. 2011-11-19.
  47. "Rep. William Keating (D-Mass.)". Roll Call. CQ.
  48. "Bill Keating (Election 2012)". The Wall Street Journal. 2012.
  49. Schmidt, Michael S. (August 18, 2012). "Mandatory Class for Airport Officers Accused of Profiling". The New York Times.
  50. "Keating Honors Women's History Month by Starting Women's Advisory Board for District". Congressman Bill Keating. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
  51. "Keating Public Schedule for Women's Week". Congressman Bill Keating. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
  52. "Legislation Abortion Issues Representative William "Bill" R. Keating". Project VoteSmart. 2011-11-19.
  53. "Interest Group Rating Representative William "Bill" R. Keating". Project VoteSmart. 2011-11-19.
  54. "It Gets Better: Massachusetts Congressional Delegation". RepBillKeating. 2011-11-18.
  55. 1 2 "Issue Positions (Political Courage Test) Representative William "Bill" R. Keating". Project VoteSmart. 2011-11-19.
  56. "Legislation Gun Issues Representative William "Bill" R. Keating". Project VoteSmart. 2011-11-19.
  57. "H.R. 1814 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  58. 1 2 Kasperowicz, Pete (29 April 2013). "Bipartisan group calls for broader religious exemptions in ObamaCare". The Hill. Retrieved 11 March 2014.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill Delahunt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 10th congressional district

Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Stephen Lynch
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 9th congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bill Johnson
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Mike Kelly
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