The Commissioners, Executive Director and staff of the State Ethics Commission are subject to the provisions of the conflict of interest and financial disclosure laws that apply to state employees. In addition to the restrictions and requirements imposed by the conflict law, the Commission has determined that there are certain types of situations where, due to the appearance of a conflict of interest, Commissioners, the Executive Director, and Commission staff members should not participate in a particular Commission matter. These situations include instances where a complaint is made alleging that a Commissioner, the Executive Director or a member of the Commission's staff, or any of their respective relatives, friends, former employers or co-workers, or anyone else with whom they have some type of personal or business relationship (all such persons or entities,"Related Persons"), has violated G.L. c. 268A or 268B. They also include instances where the Executive Director or a Commission staff member is asked to provide advice regarding the requirements of G.L. c. 268A or 268B by a Related Person.


The Commissioners, the Executive Director and Commission staff will follow these procedures in such situations:

  1. Complaints.

a. Commission Staff. If the Commission receives a complaint alleging that a member of its staff, or any Related Person, has violated the conflict or disclosure laws, the Executive Director shall be notified immediately. The staff member shall not be notified of the existence of the complaint, and shall not participate in any manner with respect to the complaint. In all other respects, such complaints shall be reviewed and investigated in the same manner and to the same extent as other similar complaints.

b. Enforcement Division Chief. If the Commission receives a complaint alleging that the Enforcement Division Chief, or any Related Person, has violated the conflict or disclosure laws, the Executive Director shall be notified immediately. The Enforcement Division Chief shall not participate in any manner with respect to the complaint, and his duties with respect to the complaint shall be performed by the Executive Director. In all other respects, such complaints shall be reviewed and investigated in the same manner and to the same extent as other similar complaints.

c. Executive Director. If the Commission receives a complaint alleging that the Executive Director, or any Related Person, has violated the conflict or disclosure laws, the Enforcement Division Chief shall be notified immediately. The Enforcement Division Chief shall bring the matter to the Commission's attention at the next scheduled Commission meeting and shall request that the Commission designate a Commissioner to perform the Executive Director's duties with respect to such complaint. Such Commissioner shall recuse him/herself from any subsequent proceeding or matter before the Commission related to such complaint. Pending such designation, the Enforcement Division Chief shall not consult with the Executive Director and shall perform the Executive Director's duties with respect to such complaint. The Executive Director shall not participate in any manner with respect to the complaint. In all other respects, such complaints shall be reviewed and investigated in the same manner and to the same extent as other similar complaints.

d. Commissioners. If the Commission receives a complaint alleging that a Commissioner, or any Related Person, has violated the conflict or disclosure laws, the Executive Director shall be notified immediately. The Commissioner shall not participate in any manner with respect to the complaint. Such complaints shall be referred to the Attorney General for review, investigation, and any other necessary action.

e. Self-Report. If a Commissioner, the Executive Director or Commission staff member believes that he or she may not have complied with the conflict of interest law, he or she is encouraged to self-report the matter to the General Counsel or, if the General Counsel is unavailable or otherwise unable to participate in the matter, to the Executive Director. If the General Counsel concludes that a violation may have occurred, she will notify the Executive Director and the Enforcement Division Chief, and the matter will be handled in accordance with the preceding paragraphs. The General Counsel shall self-report to the Executive Director.


2. Requests for Advice. The Executive Director and Commission staff shall not provide advice in response to requests from Related Persons, and instead shall request that any such matters be reassigned to other staff. Except for formal advisory opinions, which require a vote of the Commission, Commissioners shall refer all requests for legal advice to the Executive Director or Legal Division Chief. A Commissioner shall not participate in any formal advisory opinion if the request for such opinion is from or involves him/herself or a Related Person.


3. Exceptions to this Policy. The definition of "Related Person" shall not include any person or entity with whom there has not been a current relationship for at least five (5) years, unless there are specific circumstances that would require otherwise. Other exceptions may be made to this Policy with the written approval of the Executive Director or the Chairman of the Commission.


4. Effective Date. This Policy shall be in effect as of September 18, 2009, and shall supersede any previous policies of the Commission with respect to the protocol for addressing situations in which the appearance of a conflict of interest may require the recusal of a Commissioner, the Executive Director or Commission staff. A copy of this Policy shall be posted on the Commission website and copies shall be provided to newly appointed Commissioners and newly hired staff.