April 27, 1987

FACTS:




You are a member of the General Court. Your district includes a town which is the site of a proposed project. Directly across from the proposed project site is developed real estate owned by a realty trust. Your father is a primary beneficiary of the Trust. The project, if completed, will increase the value of your family's real estate, and in particular, your father's financial interest as Trust beneficiary. Because of this financial interest, you have not officially participated in any site selection decisions.

You are interested in facilitating the approval of the project by state and town agencies and private parties. In addition to providing a forum for the public and parties to resolve disputes regarding the project, you would like to meet privately with state agencies to persuade them to make certain decisions and to assist them in those efforts. You are also interested in supporting general enabling legislation which provides funding to similar projects. See, St. 1980 c. 846.


QUESTION:


Does G.L. c. 268A restrict your activities as a member of the General Court in connection with the proposed project?


ANSWER:


You are subject to the restrictions described below.


DISCUSSION:


As a member of the General Court, you are a state employee for the purposes of G.L. c. 268A. Section 6 of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a state employee from participating[1] in any particular matter [2] in which a member of his immediate family [3] has a financial interest. As applied to you, whenever any decision, determination, contract, special legislation or other particular matter affects your immediate family, you must comply with the abstention
requirements of s.6.

Because your father has a financial interest in the completion of the proposed project, you must abstain from participation in particular matters relating to the projecc EC-COI-84-98. Compliance with s.6 requires that you not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter, whether by voting or by meeting with state agency officials in connection with funding or
licensing decisions relating to the project. See, Craven v. State Ethics Commission, 390 Mass. 191 (1983) (State legislator violates s. 6 by injecting himself into a state agency proceeding to award a contract to his family.)

On the other hand, you would not violate s.6 by voting in favor of your legislation, or by engaging in activities in support of the legislation. Because general legislation is specifically exempted from the definition of "particular matter," you are not restricted from officially participating in the consideration of the bill. See, EC-COI-85-69; 82-169.

Further, it is likely that certain discussions or determinations made in connection with the project will not affect your family's financial interest, for example, decisions relating to the selection of a designer may not require your abstention under s.6. Given the hypothetical nature of your question, we can provide a more complete advisory opinion to you only upon your renewal of
your request with more specific, factual information.

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[1] "Participate," is defined as participate in agency action or in a particular matter personally and substantially as a state, county and municipal employee, through approval, disapproval, decision, recommendation, the rendering of advice, investigation or otherwise. G.L. c. 268A, s. 1(j).

[2] "Particular matter," is defined as 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. G.L. c. 268A, s.1(k).

[3] "Immediate family," is defined as the employee and his spouse, and their parents, children, brothers and sisters. G.L. c. 268A, s.1(e).

End Of Decision