Docket No. 489
In the Matter of William F. Cass
May 12, 1994
This Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") is entered into
between the State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and William F.
Cass ("Rep. Cass") pursuant to s.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,
On June 22, 1993, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L.
c. 268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into allegations that Rep.
Cass had violated the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. The
Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on January 25, 1994,
voted to find reasonable cause to believe that Rep. Cass violated
G.L. c. 268A, s.3.
The Commission and Rep. Cass now agree to the following facts
and conclusions of law:
1. Rep. Cass has served in the state legislature from
January 1991 to the present. During that time, he has served on
the Health Care Committee (1991 to the present; vice-chair in
1993); the Personnel Administration Committee (1991 to the
present); and the Joint Committee on Insurance (six months in
2. Rep. Cass has sponsored three bills affecting the
3. In addition, Rep. Cass, as a member of various
legislative committees, has participated in many hearings on bills
of interest to the insurance industry. Such participation has
included voting on whether such bills should be reported out of
committee. Rep. Cass also voted on such bills if they reached the
4. During the period relevant here, F. William Sawyer
("Sawyer") was the senior John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance
Company, Inc. ("Hancock") lobbyist responsible for Massachusetts
legislation. At all relevant times, Sawyer was a registered
legislative agent (for Hancock) in Massachusetts. Hancock, a
Massachusetts corporation, is the nation's sixth largest life
insurer doing business in all 50 states. It offers an array of
life, health and investment products. As a Massachusetts domiciled
life insurer, Hancock's activities are more comprehensively
regulated by Massachusetts than by any other state.
5. At all relevant times, Rep. Cass knew that Sawyer was a
Massachusetts registered lobbyist for Hancock.
6. Lobbyists are employed to promote, oppose or influence
7. One way in which some lobbyists further their legislative
goals is to develop or maintain goodwill and personal relationships
with legislators to ensure effective access to them. Some
lobbyists entertain legislators through meals, drinks, golf and
sporting events in order to develop the desired goodwill and
8. Between March 10, 1993, and March 14, 1993, Rep. Cass
stayed at the Plantation Resort at Amelia Island, Florida, where he
had registered to attend an educational conference sponsored by the
Conference of Insurance Legislators. Rep. Cass stayed at the
Plantation Resort with several other legislators and a number of
Massachusetts lobbyists. On March 11, 1993, the first day of the
conference, Cass played golf at the Amelia Plantation course. He
played with a foursome consisting of himself, Sawyer, and two
others. He shared a cart with Sawyer for the 18 holes. Sawyer
paid for the golf. The value of the golf was $80. Rep. Cass did
not attend any conference events that day.
On March 12, 1993, Rep. Cass played golf at the Valley Course
at Sawgrass, a golf course located at Ponte Verde, Florida. Rep.
Cass thought that a certain Massachusetts lobbyist other than
Sawyer paid for the golf. Sawyer's records, however, show that
Sawyer paid for this golf. The cost of the golf was $104 per
person. Rep. Cass did not attend any conference sessions that day
On Saturday, March 13, 1993, Rep. Cass attended some
conference events. He returned to Boston on Sunday, March 14th.
9. Section 3(b) of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a state employee
from directly or indirectly receiving anything of substantial value
for or because of any official act or act within his official
responsibility performed or to be performed by him.
10. Massachusetts legislators are state employees.
11. Anything worth $50 or more is of substantial value for
12. By accepting $80 in entertainment from Sawyer on March
11, 1993, while Rep. Cass was in a position to take official
actions which could benefit Sawyer and/or his employer, Hancock,
Rep. Cass accepted an item of substantial value for or because of
official acts or acts within his official responsibility performed
or to be performed. In doing so he violated s.3(b).
13. By accepting $104 in golf entertainment under the belief
it was from a certain Massachusetts lobbyist, while Rep. Cass was
in the position to take official actions which could benefit that
lobbyist and/or his employer, Rep. Cass accepted an item of
substantial value for or because of official acts or acts within
his official responsibility performed or to be performed. In doing
so he violated s.3(b).
14. The Commission is aware of no evidence that the
gratuities referenced above were provided to Rep. Cass with the
intent to influence any specific act by him as a legislator or any
particular act within his official responsibility. The Commission
is also aware
of no evidence the Rep. Cass took any official action concerning
any proposed legislation which would affect any of the registered
Massachusetts lobbyists in return for the gratuities. However,
even though the gratuities were only intended to foster official
goodwill and access, they were still impermissible.
15. Rep. Cass cooperated with the Commission's investigation.
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Rep.
Cass, 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 Rep. Cass:
(1) that Rep. Cass pay to the Commission the sum of five
hundred and fifty dollars ($550.00) and;
(2) that Rep. Cass waive all rights to contest the
findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and
conditions contained in this Agreement in any related
administrative or judicial proceedings to which the
Commission is or may be a party.
 This figure represents the fee for eighteen holes and Rep.
Cass' share of a cart.
 See Commonwealth v. Famigletti, 4 Mass. App. Ct. 584, 587
 For s.3 purposes, it is unnecessary to prove that the
gratuities given were generated by some specific identifiable act
performed or to be performed. As the Commission explained in
Advisory No. 8, issued May 14, 1985, prohibiting private parties
from giving free tickets worth $50 or more to public employees who
Even in the absence of any specifically identifiable
matter that was, is or soon will be pending before the
official, s.3 may apply. Thus, where there is no prior
social or business relationship between the giver and the
recipient, and the recipient is a public official who is
in a position to use [his] authority in a manner which
could affect the giver, an inference can be drawn that
the giver was seeking the goodwill of the official
because of a perception by the giver that the public
official's influence could benefit the giver. In such a
case, the gratuity is given for his yet unidentifiable
"acts to be performed."
Specifically, s.3 applies to generalized goodwill-engendering
entertainment of legislators by private parties, even where no
specific legislation is discussed. In re Flaherty, 1991 SEC 498
issued December 10, 1990 (majority leader violates s.3 by accepting
six Celtics tickets from billboard company's lobbyists). In re
Massachusetts Candy and Tobacco Distributors, Inc., 1992 SEC 609
(company representing distributors violates s.3 by providing a free
day's outing [a barbecue lunch, golf or tennis, a cocktail hour and
a clam bake dinner], worth over $100 per person, to over 50
legislators, their staffers and family members, with the intent of
enhancing the distributors' image with the Legislature and where
the legislators were in a position to benefit the distributors).
Section 3 applies to meals and golf, including those occasions
motivated by business reasons, for example, the so-called "business
lunch". In re U.S. Trust, 1988 SEC 356. Finally, s.3 applies to
entertainment gratuities of $50 or more even in connection with
educational conferences. In re Stone & Webster, 1991 SEC 522, and
In re State Street Bank, 1992 SEC 582.
On the present facts, s.3 applies to entertainment of Rep.
Cass by lobbyists where the intent was generally to create goodwill
and the opportunity for access, even though specific legislation
was not discussed.
 As discussed above in footnote 3, s.3 of G.L. c. 268A is
violated even where there is no evidence of an understanding that
the gratuity is being given in exchange for a specific act
performed or to be performed. Indeed, any such quid pro quo
understanding would raise extremely serious concerns under the
bribe section of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, s.2.
Section 2 is not applicable in this case, however, as there
was no such quid pro quo between the lobbyists and Rep. Cass.
 This amount is approximately three times the value of the
prohibited $184 in gratuities received by Rep. Cass, representing
both a disgorgment of the gratuity and a civil sanction.