Please note that sections 6, 13 and 19 encompass any financial interest without regard to its size. The financial interest, however, must be direct and immediate or reasonably foreseeable. Financial interests that are remote, speculative or not sufficiently identifiable do not require disqualification under sections 6, 13 and 19.
General Rule for State and County Employees, Section 6 and Section 13
G.L. c. 268A, section 6 prohibits a state employee from participating in a particular matter if he, an immediate family member , or a partner has a financial interest in the matter. A state employee also may not participate in a matter if he is an officer, director, trustee, partner or employee of a business organization and the business organization has a financial interest in the matter. Finally, if a state employee is negotiating with or has an arrangement with a person or organization concerning future employment, he may not participate in a particular matter if the person or organization has a financial interest in it. G.L. c. 268A, section 13 includes the same prohibitions for county employees.
State and County Employees Duty to Disclose Financial Interest
Under sections 6 and 13, if a state or county employee's duties would otherwise require him to participate in a matter affecting his financial interest, or the financial interest of his immediate family member, business partner or business organization with which he is, or is seeking to be affiliated, he is required to fully disclose to his appointing authority and the State Ethics Commission, in writing, all relevant facts surrounding the particular matter and the financial interest. Upon receiving the written disclosure, the appointing authority must either: (1) assign the particular matter to another employee, or (2) assume responsibility himself, or (3) make a written determination that the employee may participate because the financial interest is not so substantial as to affect the integrity of the employee's service to the Commonwealth or the county. Copies of this written disclosure and written determination by the appointing authority must be forwarded to the employee and to the State Ethics Commission. This written disclosure and written determination must be completed prior to any participation in the matter. If the employee is not otherwise required to act in any given matter, he may simply abstain and it is not necessary to make any disclosure.
General Rule for Municipal Employees, Section 19.
Under G.L. c. 268A, section 19, a municipal employee may not participate in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he or certain persons or entities with whom he is related has a financial interest. Those persons or entities include: immediate family members, partners, any business organization in which he is serving as an officer, director, trustee or employee, or any person or organization with whom he is negotiating or has an arrangement regarding future employment.
Exemptions for Municipal Employees, Section 19(b)(1).
Under section 19(b)(1), if, prior to participating in the particular matter at issue, an appointed municipal employee files a written disclosure with his appointing authority, of the relevant facts concerning a conflict of interest, the appointing authority, in his discretion, may give the municipal employee a written determination that the conflict is not so substantial as to affect the integrity of his services to the municipality. If the appointed municipal employee receives this determination prior to participating, then he may participate in the particular matter.
In addition, a municipal employee may participate in a particular matter despite having a financial interest if the matter involves a determination of general policy and the interest is shared with a substantial segment of the town's population.
"Immediate Family" includes the public employee, his/her spouse, and their parents, children, brothers and sisters. See G.L. c. 268A, section 1(e).
"Participate" includes not only a final vote or decision on a matter, but also any investigation, recommendation or rendering of advice. See G.L. c. 268A, section 1(j).
" Particular Matter" is any judicial or other proceeding, application, submission, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, controversy, charge, accusation, arrest, decision, determination, finding, but excluding enactment of general legislation by the general court and petitions of cities, towns, counties and districts for special laws related to their governmental organizations, powers, duties, finances and property. See G.L. c. 268A, section 1(k).
"Financial Interest" is not defined by the conflict of interest law. However, the Commission has interpreted the restrictions of the conflict of interest law to apply in any instance when private financial interests are directly and immediately affected, or when it is reasonably foreseeable that the financial interests would be affected.
" Business Organization" For purposes of the conflict of interest law, all for profit organizations and non-profit organizations which engage in substantial business activities are considered business organizations.