On January 18, 2013, the State Ethics Commission approved Advisory 13-1, “Making and Receiving Recommendations for Employment.” Advisory 13-1* explains how the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, applies to elected and appointed public employees in connection with making and receiving job recommendations.
Advisory 13-1 provides guidance on when a public employee may make a job recommendation using his or her official title or letterhead, and when such recommendations may be made only in a private capacity.
The Advisory also addresses the ability of elected officials to make job recommendations as a constituent service. As set forth in the Advisory, the Commission explicitly recognized that providing constituent services is a legitimate and time-honored activity of legislators and other elected officials. Employment recommendations are not prohibited as long as they are not addressed to an employer prohibited from receiving them, or accompanied by pressure, and as long as the elected official does not selectively provide recommendations only to some categories or classes of individuals, and not to other job applicants with comparable credentials.
The Advisory explains how public employees who receive recommendations should handle them to comply with the conflict of interest law and with G.L. c. 66, § 3A. The Advisory also notes that G.L. c. 271, § 40 expressly prohibits most public employees from making employment recommendations to certain types of employers.
*Advisories are issued by the Commission to provide guidance on issues which have not been directly addressed by the Commission publicly. They can be found on the Commission’s website at: www.mass.gov/ethics.