February 3, 1988

FACTS:

You are the First Vice Chairperson of the ABC Democratic City
Committee (Committee). The Committee is composed of individuals who
are all Democrats and who are all residents of ABC. Committee
members are elected every four years at the time of the
presidential primary election. The Committee would like to
establish a scholarship to be awarded to a child or relative of one
of its members. You are concerned about how the conflict of
interest law would affect the Committee as it seeks to establish
this scholarship.


QUESTION:


Is the ABC Democratic City Committee a governmental entity for
the purposes of G.L. c. 268A?


ANSWER:


No.


DISCUSSION:


The scope of the restrictions on the members of the Committee
depends upon whether the Committee is a governmental agency for the
purposes of G.L. c. 268A. Municipal agency is defined by the
conflict of interest law as "any department or office of a city or
town government and any council, division, board, bureau,
commission...or other instrumentality thereof or thereunder", G.L.
c. 268A, s.1(f). State Agency is defined by the conflict of
interest law as "any department of a state government including the
executive, legislative or judicial, and all councils thereof and
thereunder, and any division, board, bureau, commission,
institution, tribunal or other instrumentality within such
department and any independent state authority, district,
commission, instrumentality or agency, but not an agency of a
county, city or town.

In its previous determinations concerning the public status ofan
entity for the purpose of c. 268A, the Commission has focused on
the following four factors:

(1) the means by which it was created (e.g. legislative or
administrative action);

(2) the entity's performance of some essentially governmental
function;

(3) whether the entity receives and/or expends public funds;
and

(4) the extent of control and supervision exercised by
government officials or agencies over the entity.

EC-COI-85-22; EC-COI-83-74. None of these factors alone is
dispositive. The Commission has considered, in each case, whether
a particular combination of factors suffices to render an entity
a governmental entity. For example, in EC-COI-84-65, the Commission
concluded that a permanent charitable trust fund established to
fund important civic improvements aimed at benefitting the
residents of Boston, although subject to a certain amount of
municipal control, was a private entity. In addition, the
Commission has concluded that local private industry councils are
municipal agencies within the meaning of G.L c. 268A, s.1(f)
because of the role they play in the implementation of the
Federaljob Training and Partnership Act; namely in the decision-
making role they share with local elected officials in the
development of job training plans, the selection of grant
recipients and the expenditure of public funds. EC-COI-83-74.

Although the great majority of individuals elected by

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voters at municipal elections are municipal employees for the
purposes of G.L. c. 268A, we find that this conclusion will not
apply when individuals elected at municipal elections are not
expected to perform public service. In this case, the Committee
does not possess sufficient indicia of a government agency. The
Committee was created solely by members of the party interested in
party politics. The function of the Committee is to organize the
party on the local level. The Committee does not receive or expend
public money to achieve its goal. ABC has no control over the
actions of the Committee, which has no City approval or
sponsorship. The mere fact that the state regulates the Committee,
pursuant to G.L. c. 52, is insufficient to render the Committee a
municipal or state agency.[1]

Based on the foregoing, for the purposes of G.L. c. 268A, the
Committee is considered a private entity, rather than a government
agency.[2] Accordingly, the Committee is not within the
jurisdiction of G.L. c. 268A

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[1] Indeed, the Supreme Court has set limits on the permissible
range of regulation of these kinds of entities by the government.
Tashjian v. Republican Party of Conneticut, 107 S. Ct. 544(1986).
see also, San Fransisco CountyDemocratic Central Committee v. Eu
826 F. 2d 814(9th Cir. 1987).

[2] The Supreme Judicial Court in another context has noted that
members of these political committees do not hold public office.
Attorney General v. Drohan, 169 Mass. 534,535,48 N.E. 279(1897)

End Of Decision