The State Ethics Commission and Diana Brensilber Chidsey enter into this Disposition Agreement pursuant to Section 5 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented-to final order enforceable in the Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s. 4(j).
On December 13, 2006, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s. 4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of the conflict-of-interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Chidsey. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on October 17, 2007, found reasonable cause to believe that Chidsey violated G.L. c. 268A.
The Commission and Chidsey now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
Findings of Fact
1. Chidsey was employed by the Executive Office of Public Safety ("EOPS") from June 1994 to August 2003. From August 1997 until August 2003, she served as Director of Research and Evaluation at EOPS. From April 2002 to September 2002, Chidsey also held the title of Chief of Staff to the EOPS. In April and May of 2003, Chidsey served as Programs Division Acting Executive Director.
2. In 2002 and 2003, EOPS distributed millions of dollars in federal and state grant money ("EOPS grants") to Massachusetts law enforcement agencies.
3. Crest Associates ("Crest") was a Boston-based firm that provided grant application and program management services to Massachusetts municipal law enforcement agencies that were seeking these grants.
4. Crest's clients applied for and received several million dollars in EOPS grants in 2002 and 2003.
5. Crest was paid fees by its clients for services it provided in connection with EOPS grants.
6. In or about 2002, Chidsey's fiance was hired as a consultant by Crest. Chidsey did not disclose this fact to her EOPS appointing authority.
7. In approximately September 2002, Chidsey became a consultant for Crest.
8. In September 2002, Chidsey submitted a written request seeking permission from the then EOPS Secretary to provide consulting services to police departments outside of Massachusetts. The Secretary approved her request "based upon the information presented in your request and your representation that this work will not conflict with the duties of your current position." Although the Secretary was informed orally that Chidsey would be providing consulting services for Crest, Chidsey did not disclose in her written submission that she was working as a consultant for Crest.
9. In January 2003, a new EOPS administration took over. Chidsey did not respond to a formal request from EOPS in March 2003 to disclose any outside employment.
10. In the late spring and early summer of 2003, Chidsey contributed to the planning of a federally-funded EOPS state homeland security grant program. Crest subsequently applied for state homeland security grants on behalf of its police department clients. Chidsey served on one of seven EOPS teams which rated applications for the state homeland security grants. While none of the applications rated by Chidsey's team were on behalf of Crest clients, the applications were in competition with those submitted by Crest for its clients.
11. In August 2003, Chidsey left EOPS and accepted a full-time consulting position with Crest.
Conclusions of Law
12. As the EOPS Director of Research and Evaluation, as the EOPS Chief of Staff and as the EOPS Program Division Acting Executive Director, Chidsey was a state employee within the meaning of G.L. c. 268A.
13. Section 23(b)(3) of G.L. c. 268A in relevant part prohibits a public employee from, knowingly or with reason to know, acting in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, knowing all of the relevant facts, to conclude that anyone can improperly influence or unduly enjoy that person's favor in the performance of his official duties.
14. By contributing to the planning of a federally-funded EOPS state homeland security grant program that Crest subsequently applied for on behalf of its police department clients and by assisting in rating the proposals or applications for such grants submitted by Crest's clients' competitors, Chidsey repeatedly participated as an EOPS employee in EOPS grants that directly or indirectly impacted Crest clients (and thus Crest) while both she and her husband were working as consultants for Crest. In doing so, Chidsey knowingly acted in a manner which would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts to conclude that Crest could unduly enjoy her favor in the performance of her official duties.
15. Accordingly, Chidsey repeatedly violated s. 23(b)(3).
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Chidsey, the Commission has determined that the public interest would be served by the disposition of this matter without further enforcement proceedings, on the basis of the following terms and conditions agreed to by Chidsey:
(1) that Chidsey pay to the Commission the sum of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) as a civil penalty for repeatedly violating G. L. c. 268A s. 23(b)(3); and
(2) that Chidsey waive all rights to contest the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement in this or any other related administrative or judicial proceedings to which the Commission is or may be a party.
Date Approved: November 2, 2007
End Of Decision