Edward J. King

Edward Joseph King (May 11, 1925 – September 18, 2006) was an American politician who served as the 66th Governor of Massachusetts from 1979 to 1983. A member of the Democratic Party until 1985, he then became a member of the Republican Party. Elected in the 1978 Massachusetts gubernatorial election, he lost the Democratic primary of the 1982 election to his predecessor Michael Dukakis.

Edward J. King
Edward J. King.jpg
66th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 4, 1979 – January 6, 1983
LieutenantThomas P. O'Neill III
Preceded byMichael Dukakis
Succeeded byMichael Dukakis
Executive Director of Massachusetts Port Authority
In office
Preceded byJohn F. O'Halloran
Succeeded byDavid W. Davis
Personal details
Edward Joseph King

(1925-05-11)May 11, 1925
Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedSeptember 18, 2006(2006-09-18) (aged 81)
Burlington, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (1977–1985)
Republican (1985–2006)
Spouse(s)Josephine "Jody" King
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Battles/warsWorld War II
Edward J. King
No. 34
Position:Guard / Defensive end
Career information
College:Boston College
Career history
Player stats at PFR

Early lifeEdit

King was born on May 11, 1925 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. During his teens, King worked as a pinsetter in a Revere Beach bowling alley to help pay for his schooling. Toward the end of World War II he served in the United States Navy. He was given a medical discharge due to a broken ankle.[1]

Athletic careerEdit

King graduated from Boston College in 1948 and went on to play professional football as a guard with the All-America Football Conference Buffalo Bisons from 1948 to 1949 and the National Football League's Baltimore Colts in 1950.


After his athletic career, King took accounting and business courses at Bentley College. In 1953, he went to work for the accounting firm of Lybrand, Ross Bros., & Montgomery. After performing an audit for the Museum of Science he was hired to serve as its assistant director and comptroller.[1]

In 1959, King became comptroller for the newly formed Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport).[1] On December 23, 1961 he was appointed the port authority's secretary-treasurer.[2] On June 18, 1963, he was named the Authority's executive director.[3]

During King's tenure as executive director, Logan International Airport was transformed into a modern facility. Upgrades were made to the runways and terminals, and the Volpe International Terminal (Terminal E) was built. Under King's watch, the authority went from a deficit to a surplus. However, he was criticized for ignoring the wishes of East Boston residents during airport expansion projects. His 1969 authorization of the destruction of Frederick Law Olmsted's Wood Island Park by bulldozers and chainsaws while the city was still challenging the taking of the parkland in court solidified the public's animosity.[4] His critics also claim that the airport's success was not due to King, but due to the success of the jet age. Massport also became known for providing legislators with jobs for their constituents, gifts, and no-bid contracts.[1]

King was also responsible for initiating ferry service to Hingham with the intention of revitalizing the Hingham Shipyard property.[5]

King had a poor relationship with the Massachusetts Port Authority Board of Directors, who wanted him to consult with the board before he proceeded with the expansion of the airport and other projects.[1] On November 21, 1974, the board voted 4 to 2 to fire King.[6]

New England CouncilEdit

After his dismissal, King became president of the New England Council, a regional Chamber of commerce-like organization funded by business interests. In this position he performed a variety of duties, including lobbying the federal government for legislation to limit environment restrictions on business and coordinating an attempt to have the national solar energy research center located in New England.[1]


On October 25, 1977, King announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for Governor. A fiscal and social conservative, he ran as a pro-life candidate and supported capital punishment, offshore drilling, increased nuclear power, greater research on solar energy, less business regulation, raising the drinking age to 21, and mandatory sentences for drug dealers.[7][8] King was able to raise more money than his opponents due to his support from the business community. He focused his spending on extensive media advertising while his main primary opponent, incumbent Governor Michael Dukakis, spent more money on organization.[9]

In September 1978, King defeated Dukakis in the Democratic primary. He then went on to defeat a liberal Republican, Massachusetts House Minority Leader Francis W. Hatch, Jr., in the November election.

During his term of office, King froze property taxes, reduced state spending on social programs, undertook a variety of efforts to encourage increased business and agricultural opportunities in the Commonwealth, introduced mandatory minimum sentences, and passed legislation to reintroduce the death penalty in Massachusetts, a measure which was later ruled unconstitutional by the state's Supreme Judicial Court. When advocating capital punishment, President Ronald Reagan called King his "favorite Democratic governor" and King endorsed Reagan in the 1984 presidential election.[10]

Reelection campaignEdit

In 1982, while King sought a second term as Governor of Massachusetts, charges of corruption in the Massachusetts Revenue Department hampered his campaign to win the Democratic primary against previous Governor Michael Dukakis. Dukakis won the Democratic non-binding endorsement at the State Democratic Convention in May. By June, a Boston Globe poll put Dukakis's support among likely Democratic primary voters at 68%, compared with King's 20%.

In June 1982, Massachusetts State tax examiner Stanley J. Barczak was arrested for accepting a bribe. Barczak made claims of widespread corruption and agreed to become an informer for Francis X. Bellotti, the state's Attorney General, in exchange for a suspended sentence without jail time. (Barczak's testimony led to the trials of two other people, but his claim of widespread corruption was never proven in court.)[11]

Barczak had served a five-year prison term, beginning in 1953, for tax fraud committed shortly after working at the Internal Revenue Service's Pittsburgh office. He had worked for Governor King in his 1978 campaign. After that election he had sought a position in the King administration, and one of his letters requesting employment was initialed by King and forwarded to his appointments office. Records showed that in 1981 he had an appointment to meet with Barczak, though King could not recall whether this meeting took place. Barczak was hired in January 1981 as a tax examiner for the Lowell district office.[citation needed]

King had appointed one of his old high school friends, John F. Coady, as deputy revenue commissioner. On July 21, 1982, King was informed that Coady had been implicated in a grand jury investigation of the department. On July 30, Coady was found at his home dead by means of suicide from hanging; he had rehired Barczak in 1982, after budget cuts in 1981 had resulted in Barczak being let go.[12][13]

Revenue Commissioner Joyce Hampers had initially refused to turn over the subpoenaed tax records of 3,000 individuals to the Attorney General for the grand jury. She cited state laws on privacy and characterized the investigation as "a fishing expedition". Gov. King worked out a compromise were the records of 195 individuals suspected of tax fraud would be turned over to the grand jury.[citation needed]

Hampers went on to insinuate that a nighttime break-in at her office (where some sensitive records had been stolen, but none connected to the investigation) had been ordered by his chief prosecutor Stephen Delinsky. She accused him of being motivated in his actions out of favoring Dukakis' campaign.[14]

In response to Hampers unfounded accusations, Gov. King ordered her to stop making public statements. Delinsky charged that Hampers had tried to use state police to confiscate sensitive records held by Barczak (only prevented from doing so by the intervention of state troopers guarding him). Hampers responded saying she had only sent them to collect Barczak's revenue department credentials. Delinsky told reporters he would have the grand jury consider whether the incident was obstruction of justice and intimidation of a witness.

Hampers was also under media scrutiny for being forced, along with her physician and industrialist husband, to pay $16,818 plus interest in Federal back taxes when a court disallowed an elaborate tax shelter they had established.[citation needed]

The scandal hurt King's campaign just as it seemed he might gain on Dukakis due to a $1 million dollar ad campaign boasting of his efforts to cut taxes and get tough on drunken drivers.[14]

Dukakis, focusing on the charges of corruption in the Revenue Department and calling King a "cheerleader for Reaganomics", defeated the governor in the primaries and took the Democratic nomination.[15]

Post-political careerEdit

Following his term of office, Governor King joined the public relations firm of Hill & Knowlton. In 1985, he switched his party affiliation to the Republican Party and considered running for governor in 1986 on the Republican ticket.[15] Until the time of his death he maintained residences in both Massachusetts and Florida.

His wife Josephine died in 1995. He had two sons, Timothy and Brian. His brother Paul was a judge in the Massachusetts court system.


The King Cabinet
Governor Edward J. King 1979 – 1983
Lt. Governor Thomas P. O'Neill III 1979 – 1983
Secretary of Transportation Barry Locke
James Carlin
1979 – 1981
1981 – 1983
Secretary of Communities and Development Byron J. Matthews 1979 – 1983
Secretary of Environmental Affairs John A. Bewick 1979 – 1983
Secretary of Consumer Affairs Eileen Schell 1979 – 1983
Secretary of Human Services Charles F. Mahoney
William T. Hogan
1979 – 1981
1981 – 1983
Secretary of Elder Affairs Stephen Guptill
Thomas H. D. Mahoney
1979 – 1979
1979 – 1983
Secretary of Administration and Finance Edward Hanley
David M. Bartley
1979 – 1981
1981 – 1983
Secretary of Public Safety George Luciano 1979 – 1983
Secretary of Economic Affairs George Kariotis 1979 – 1983
Secretary of Energy Joseph S. Fitzpatrick
Margaret St. Clair
1979 – 1981
1981 – 1983


  1. ^ a b c d e f Turner, Robert L. (November 5, 1978). "King or Hatch?". The Boston Globe.
  2. ^ "Edward J. King Named MPA Sec.-Treasurer". The Boston Globe. December 24, 1961.
  3. ^ "King Named Head of Port Authority". The Boston Globe. June 19, 1963.
  4. ^ "Parks, Lost and Found—Land&People". The Trust for Public Land. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  5. ^ Berwick, Martha A.R. (November 17, 2005). "Hingham ferry has key role as transit hub". The Boston Globe.
  6. ^ Fuerbringer, Jonathan (November 22, 1974). "Massport board fires King on 4-2 vote". The Boston Globe.
  7. ^ Turner, Robert L. (October 26, 1977). "King opens campaign with blast at Dukakis". The Boston Globe.
  8. ^ Nick King; Laurence Collins (September 17, 1978). "A final blitz for votes". The Boston Globe.
  9. ^ Nick King; Walter V. Robinson (August 13, 1978). "3 Democrats get ready for the final push". The Boston Globe.
  10. ^ Antle, W. James III (September 29, 2006). "King Is Dead". The American Spectator. Archived from the original on October 4, 2006.
  11. ^ "Informer in Massachusetts Gets a Suspended Sentence". The New York Times. April 22, 1984.
  12. ^ "Bribery Scandal Growing in Impact". The New York Times. August 3, 1982.
  13. ^ "State official found hanged". UPI. July 31, 1982.
  14. ^ a b Fox Butterfield (August 14, 1982). "Tax Scandal Roils Massachusetts Governor Race". The New York Times.
  15. ^ a b Katie Zezima (September 19, 2006). "Ex-Gov. Edward J. King, 81, Who Defeated Dukakis, Dies". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Michael Dukakis
Massachusetts Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate
1978 (won)
Succeeded by
Michael Dukakis
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Dukakis
Governor of Massachusetts
January 4, 1979 – January 6, 1983
Succeeded by
Michael Dukakis