Parties: The Honorable Kevin H. White, Mayor, City of
Boston, City Hall Boston, MA
Date: March 9, 1982
Dear Mayor White:
As you are aware, the Commission has conducted a Preliminary
Inquiry concerning possible violations of the state's conflict of
G. L. c. 268A, arising out of a birthday party planned in honor of
your wife, Kathryn, by members of her family for March 27, 1981 at
the Museum of Fine Arts. That Inquiry focused on allegations that
City employees and private individuals who did business with the City were solicited to contribute monetary gifts to that affairs.
Having concluded its Inquiry, the Commission finds reasonable
cause to believe that in connection with that party you failed to
take actions required by Sections 23(d) and 23(e) of G. L. c. 268A
as those provisions are interpreted by the Commission. The
Commission has determined that an adjudicatory hearing is
unnecessary in this case because there appears no substantial
dispute about the facts essential to the rulings made herein.
Therefore, the Commission has directed that this letter be sent to
you and made public in order to insure future compliance with the
law by you and other elected officials and public employees. That
determination was made primarily in view of the cancellation of the
party and return of the monetary gifts. The Commission also took
into consideration the extent to which prior rulings might not have
given you sufficient notice that your conduct in this matter
violated the conflict of interest law.
The Commission's Investigative Findings
The Commission's investigation of the circumstances
surrounding the planning of a birthday party for Kathryn White
which was scheduled for March 27,1981, revealed the following:
1. In January 1981, initial plans and arrangements were made
to hold a birthday party in honor of Kathryn White on March 27,
1981. The individual primarily responsible for the party's
organization and planning was Carolyn Connors, the sister of
Kathryn White and a former consultant to the Kevin White Committee.
The impetus for the party came from the Calvin family, of which
Carolyn and Kathryn are members. You were informed of the plan to
hold a birthday party for your wife during the initial stages of
its organization, and expressed your view that a hotel was not an
2. On or about January 30, 1981, Mrs. Connors and Peggy Dray,
a close friend of your family, made arrangements with the Museum
of Fine Arts in Boston, to use their facilities for the March 27th
party. At the time that these arrangements were made, the Museum
was advised that approximately 800-1,000 guests would be attending
3. During the first two weeks of February of 1981, Mrs.
Connors and Mrs. Dray arranged to purchase and print 1,500
invitations together with reply cards and printed envelopes. Those
reply cards included a statement which read "If you wish to
contribute to the birthday gift celebration, make your check
payable to the Birthday Celebration Committee." The name "Birthday
Celebration Committee" (BCC) was adopted by Carolyn Connors. The
BCC address was listed as 49 Monument Avenue, Charlestown, which
is the residence of Mr. and Mrs. William Calvin, Sr., the parents
of Carolyn Connors and Kathryn White. Mr. and Mrs. William Calvin,
Sr. were not present in Massachusetts during the months of January
through March of 1981. Reply cards and contributions mailed to that
address were picked up by Carolyn Connors. Theodore Anzalone, Sr.,
a close friend of your family, and at that time the Manager of the
Hynes Auditorium Commission, paid for the invitations.
4. Carolyn Connors mailed invitations to the party during the
last week in February and the first week in March of 1981. One of
the documents used by the BCC to draw up the guest list was a 100
page listing of campaign contributors to the Kevin White Committee
filed with the City Clerk or September 17, 1979, by William J.
Calvin, Sr., as campaign treasurer of the Kevin White Committee.
5. At precinct captain meetings in the City two ward
coordinators announced that they could obtain "tickets" to the
birthday party for anyone who did not receive a printed invitation
and that invitees could contribute whatever amount they wished.
Further, an undetermined number of individuals who did not receive
invitations contacted your office to obtain invitations and/or
"tickets" to the affair. Those individuals were referred by your
office to the BCC and/or the Calvin family.
6. Prior to the cancellation of the party on March 26, 1981,
the BCC had received at least $122,000 in contributions from 401
contributors. Approximately $110,000 of these funds were
received from 167 contributors who gave in amounts of $200 or more.
Of the $122,000 in contributions collected by the BCC, $75,000 was
received from 275 contributors who were City employees or members
of their families. An additional $35,000 came from 75
individuals and businesses which either did business with or were
otherwise licensed or regulated by the City.
7. Approximately 100 of the major contributors (those
contributing over $200) to the BCC were interviewed during the
course of the Commission's investigation. Fifty percent of those
major contributors interviewed were City employees. Most of those
City employees held noncivil service positions in City departments
under the supervision and control of your Office, were not personal
friends of your wife, had never attended or been invited to any
other parties or similar functions held in the past for her, and
had never given her any gifts in the past. None of the City
employees interviewed stated that they were pressured by anyone to
make a contribution to the BCC.
Of the 50 private individuals and businesses who made major
contributions to the BCC, and were interviewed during the
investigation, most did not characterize themselves as personal
friends of your wife, had never attended or been invited to prior
birthday parties or similar functions held for her, and had never
given her any gifts in the past. Many acknowledged that their only
connection with your wife was their relationship with you and the
City, either as a contractor or licensee, and/or their relationship
as contributors to your past election campaigns.
8. On March 10, 1981, Kathryn White and Carolyn Connors
selected and ordered 500 thank you notes for use after the party.
9. On March 10, 1981, articles appeared in the Boston Herald
American and the Boston Globe citing unnamed sources alleging that
as many as 1,500 City employees and businessmen who did business
with the City of Boston had been invited to the birthday party, and
that some pressure was being brought to bear on City employees for
contributions. On March 17, 1981, you responded to the media
attention which had focused on this affair, and stated to news
reporters that you had not heard any credible evidence that City
employees were being pressured to contribute, and that if any such
evidence were brought to your attention "heads would roll." You
have testified that no one ever came to you with information or a
complaint about such pressure. However, you made no attempts to
find out from the BCC any details concerning who was being invited
to this affair, how those individuals were being invited, who was
involved in the invitation process, or who was soliciting or
accepting contributions on behalf of the BCC.
10. On March 26, 1981, the party was cancelled by the BCC at
your request due to public reports of planned demonstrations and
possible violence at the Museum of Fine Arts. At the time of the
cancellation you announced on behalf of the Galvin family that the
contributions made to the party would be returned. Substantially
all of the $122,000 in funds known to have been contributed to the
BCC, was returned during the period May 1,1981-June 30,1981.
11. The Commission's investigation did not reveal any evidence
that you had direct knowledge of the specific individuals who were
invited to this party and/or who were making contributions to it;
nor was there any evidence that you had any personal or substantial
role in the planning and organization of the party. You testified
under oath, during the course of the investigation, that you here
generally aware that the event was going to be held and of the size
of the event, and that people were contributing or making gifts to
the party. Other than that, you testified that your only personal
involvement in the planning and organization of the party was your
an early stage concerning an appropriate site, and your involvement
at the end when you stepped in to cancel the party because of the
public safety problems that arose, You testified that you did not
know who specifically was invited and who had contributed. You also
testified that you did not ask Carolyn Connors or anyone else
anything about who was being invited or was contributing to this
affair, and never discussed with her who should or should not be
invited to the party.
The Conflict Law
Section 23 of the conflict of interest law G.L. c. 268A sets
forth standards of conduct for all public employees and officials.
The provisions of Section 23 establish general guidelines and
principles for the conduct of public servants and impose certain
obligations not generally imposed on private citizens. Since 1978,
when the Commission assumed administrative and civil jurisdiction
over the conflict of interest law, the Commission has actively
interpreted and enforced the provisions of s.23 at all levels of
With respect to this matter, the Commission finds that your
course of conduct regarding the birthday party planned for your
wife was prohibited by Sections 23(d) and (e). Section 23(d)
prohibits a public official from "us[ing] or attempt[ing] to use
his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or
exemptions for himself or others." Section 23(e) prohibits a public
official from "by his conduct giv[ing] reasonable basis for the
impression that any person can improperly influence or unduly enjoy
his favor in the performance of his official duties."
You have testified that you were not involved in the details
of the planning of the party, that you had no specific knowledge of
who was invited or what they contributed, and that you did not
direct that anyone in particular be invited. However, you also
testified, you "[were] aware the event was going to be held and the
size of the event." You noted that it was "common knowledge" that
"people were contributing or making gifts to the party." You were
certainly aware that this was not going to be a private social
gathering in someone's home. At an early stage in the planning of
the party, you knew it would be held in a public place. In fact,
you expressed your view to the planners of the party that you did
not think a "hotel" was an "appropriate site." You also
participated in decisions concerning the "security issues"
surrounding the party. Moreover, there were other indications from
which you should have realized the size and scope of the party.
Your wife purchased 500 thank-you notes before the party. Employees
at City Hall with whom you would be expected to have daily contact
were planning to attend or had contributed. The party had been the
subject of much media attention. Indeed, this attention focused on
the question as to whether City employees were being pressured to
attend and contribute.
Based on the knowledge that you clearly did have, s.s.23(d)
and (e) imposed certain affirmative obligations on you with respect
to the fundraising aspects of this affair. The Commission holds:
No public official who controls the jobs of large numbers
of employees and the awarding of important contracts with
vendors can permit a large event to be planned that will raise
money for him or any members of his family without making
every reasonable effort to insure that there is neither direct
solicitation of these employees or vendors nor pressure,
either implicit or explicit, on such employees or vendors to
attend and contribute. In addition, public officials must
instruct those planning such an event that even unsolicited
contributions from employees or vendors should not be accepted
unless the circumstances make it clear that family or personal
relationships are the motivating factors.
For a public official to do otherwise results in the "use of
his official position to secure unwarranted privileges . . . for
himself or [his family]." In the Commission's view, people will be
likely to contribute because of the importance of the official's
position rather than any personal relationship with the family
member. Moreover, the official creates, "a reasonable basis for the
impression" that people ending and contributing would "unduly enjoy
his favor". The impression is created that contributors will be
rewarded and non-contributors may even be penalized in their
dealings with government.
Indeed, the very abuses that s.23 seeks to avoid were realized
in this case, The party was viewed by many as a fundraiser. In
fact, the guest list was drawn, in part, from the 1979 campaign
contributors' list. The amount of money collected was dramatically
inconsistent with the party's being a private social or family
affair. Individuals who never met your wife gave amounts greater
than they would be expected to give their own wife or their own
mother, and, indeed, in some occasions gave the equivalent of
almost a month's salary. Someone holding a major position of trust
in public life must be charged with sufficient political acumen to
realize that such occurrences are inevitable, and must
affirmatively act to see that they do not occur:
It is simply not enough to say that you kept away from direct
involvement in the event and that no one complained to you that
they felt pressured. Such pressure is implicit in the situation.
The same pressure that would lead to their contributions would
preclude their complaining about it. The kind of "hands off"
approach you took is unacceptable and insensitive to the special
obligations imposed on a person in your position.
Based on its review of the evidence gathered during the course
of this Preliminary Inquiry, and its application of the conflict-
of-interest law to that evidence, the Commission has decided that
further enforcement proceedings as regards your conduct are not
required. Rather, the Commission has determined that its
interpretation of s.23 of G.L. c. 268A, as applied to the facts set
out above, should be disseminated in the form of a public
compliance letter to serve as notice to you and to all other public
officials and employees throughout the Commonwealth of the law's
requirements. Any future actions by you or other public officials
or employees inconsistent with the Commission's rulings set out in
this letter will lead to enforcement proceedings, including, where
appropriate, imposition of civil penalties.
This matter with respect to your conduct is now considered
close by the Commission. However, please note that the issuance of
a Compliance Letter by the Commission does not preclude any other
agency with jurisdiction over this matter from taking any action
it finds appropriate. Furthermore, the Commission's determinations
in this regard are based upon the evidence currently before it,
This matter may be reopened at any time if substantial evidence of
other conduct inconsistent with this letter is brought to its
STATE ETHICS COMMISSION
 $122,000 in contributions can be documented through bank
records and partial records of the BCC which were obtained by the
Commission during its investigation. However, several individuals
interviewed during the investigation made contributions which were
returned to them in the form of their own unnegotiated checks after
the party was cancelled. These individuals were not listed on the
BCC records as contributors, nor were their contributions reflected
in any bank records. The number of these contributors would be
virtually impossible to determine.
 92 of these individuals made contributions in amounts of
$200 or more, totaling $66,000. Twenty-one Department heads
and members of your staff were invited to the party and made
contributions to the BCC.
 54 of those individuals and businesses contributed in
amounts of $200 or more, totaling $33,000.
 The Commission's ruling here, of course, does not relate
to legitimate political fundraisers. Such events are regulated by
other laws. See General Laws Chapter 55.
End Of Decision