October 20, 2011

 

Disposition Agreement

 

The State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and Timothy Bassett ("Bassett") 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, § 4(j).

On November 19, 2010, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, § 4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Bassett.  On October 14, 2011, the Commission concluded its inquiry and found reasonable cause to believe that Bassett violated G.L. c. 268A.

The Commission and Bassett now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:


 

Findings of Fact

 

1.  From 2003 to 2010, Bassett was the chairman and executive director of the Essex Regional Retirement Board ("ERRB").  One of Bassett’s responsibilities was to oversee the ERRB’s pension portfolio in order to maximize the financial return for its members.  The Essex Regional Retirement System had over 5,000 members from 19 towns, 23 special districts, and six regional schools.  Bassett's salary as executive director was approximately $134,000 a year.

2.  From 2003 to 2009, Bassett registered with the Secretary of State's Office as a lobbyist.  From 2003 to 2009, Bassett was a part-time employee of Peter McCarthy Associates ("McCarthy Associates"), a lobbying firm.  Bassett earned, on average, approximately $14,000 a year from McCarthy Associates for his services as a lobbyist for certain McCarthy Associates clients.

3.  From 2003 through 2009, Bassett, during his ERRB work hours, had many meetings with Peter McCarthy concerning their McCarthy Associates’ clients. 

4.  Bassett and McCarthy each maintained home offices, but neither leased separate office space for their lobbying work. 

5.  Bassett frequently performed his private lobbying work at his ERRB office on EERB time.   

6.  Bassett also frequently conducted his private lobbying business using ERRB equipment, computers, fax machines and printers. 

7.  On occasion, while on ERRB time, Bassett met with legislators and/or their staff at their state offices regarding his private lobbying clients.

 

Section 23(b)(2)

 

8.  Section 23(b)(2) prohibits a public employee from knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions of substantial value not properly available to similarly situated individuals.[1]

9.  The Commission has consistently held that the use of public resources of substantial value ($50 or more) for a private purpose not authorized by law amounts to the use of one’s official position to secure an unwarranted privilege.  These resources include publicly provided stationery, office supplies, utilities, telephones, office equipment, office space or other facilities, or a public employee’s work hours on the public payroll.

10.  By conducting his private lobbying work while on ERRB time and/or using ERRB-provided office space and equipment, Bassett used his official ERRB position.

11.  The use of these ERRB resources was a privilege.

12.  The privilege was unwarranted because state resources are to be used solely for official state purposes.

13.  The privilege was of substantial value because the value of the resources was well over $50.00.[2]

14.  The privilege was not properly available to other private lobbyists.

15.  Therefore, based on the foregoing, Bassett repeatedly violated § 23(b)(2).

 

Resolution

 

In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Bassett, 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 Bassett:
 

(1)  that Bassett pay to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with such payment to be delivered to the Commission, the sum of $10,000 as a civil penalty for repeatedly violating G.L. c. 268A, § 23(b)(2);[3] and

(2)  that Bassett waive all rights to contest, in this or any other administrative or judicial proceeding to which the Commission is or may be a party, the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement.

 

STATE ETHICS COMMISSION

BY

 

//signed//                      10/20/11

Karen L. Nober                Date
Executive Director

 

 

//signed//                10/17/11

Timothy Bassett                    Date                                                                                                            

                                                                       

 

I, Timothy Bassett, have personally read the above Disposition Agreement.  I understand that it is a public document and that by signing it, I will have agreed to all of the terms and conditions therein, including payment of $10,000 to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with such payment to be delivered to the State Ethics Commission.

 

 //signed//                 10/17/11

Timothy Bassett               Date
 


[1] G.L. c. 268A was amended by c. 28 of the Acts of 2009. The language of § 23(b)(2) now appears in              § 23(b)(2)(ii) of G.L. c. 268A, as amended.

 

[2] See Commonwealth  v. Famigletti, 4 Mass. App. 585, 587 (1976) (Court held that $50 in cash is considered

"substantial value").

 

[3] At the time of the majority of Bassett's violations of § 23, the maximum civil penalty was $2,000 per violation.