Docket No. 492
In the Matter of Francis G. Mara
May 12, 1994
This Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") is entered into
between the State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and Francis G.
Mara ("Rep. Mara") 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.
Mara 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. Mara violated
G.L. c. 268A, s.3 and 23(b)(3).
The Commission and Rep. Mara now agree to the following facts
and conclusions of law:
1. Rep. Mara has served in the state legislature from
January 1982 to the present. During that time, he has served on
various committees including the Joint Committee on Insurance from
1983 to the present (chairman 1991 to the present).
2. Rep. Mara has sponsored or co-sponsored numerous bills
affecting the insurance industry.
3. In addition, Rep. Mara, 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. As chairman of the Joint Committee on Insurance, Rep.
Mara has presided at that committee's hearings. Rep. Mara also has
voted on bills of interest to the insurance industry when they
reached the House floor.
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, its activities are more comprehensively regulated by
Massachusetts than by any other state.
5. During the period relevant here, George Traylor
("Traylor") was a registered legislative agent in Massachusetts for
various clients, including the Medical Malpractice Joint
Underwriting Association of Massachusetts. The association
provides malpractice and incidental insurance coverage for
physicians, dentists and hospitals.
6. During the period relevant here, William Carroll
("Carroll") was a registered legislative agent for the Life
Insurance Association of Massachusetts ("LIAM"). LIAM is a trade
association of life insurance companies doing business in
7. At all relevant times, Rep. Mara knew that Sawyer and
Carroll were Massachusetts registered lobbyists for Hancock and
LIAM, respectively. Rep. Mara also knew that Traylor was a
Massachusetts registered lobbyist representing a number of
different clients. On occasion these individuals lobbied Rep. Mara
regarding various pieces of legislation.
8. Lobbyists are employed to promote, oppose or influence
9. 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
10. On the evening of September 19, 1992, Sawyer provided
Rep. Mara and Rep. Mara's spouse with tickets to the Phantom of the
Opera at the Wang Center ($120); drinks at the Wang Center ($20)
and after-dinner drinks at the Four Seasons ($31). The total cost
of the entertainment for Rep. Mara and his spouse was $171.
11. From December 8, 1992 to December 14, 1992, Rep. Mara and
his spouse were in Puerto Rico. Rep. Mara had registered to attend
a Council of State Governments ("CSG") conference in San Juan.
However, he and his spouse stayed at the Las Palmas del Mar Resort
on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. The resort is approximately
40 miles from San Juan. Rep. Mara stayed at Las Palmas with
several other legislators and a number of Massachusetts lobbyists.
Rep. Mara maintains he chose not to stay at the conference hotel in
San Juan because of safety concerns. According to Rep. Mara,
because of the distance from San Juan, he did not attend any of the
CSG conference functions.
On the evening of December 8, 1992, Rep. Mara and his spouse
ate at the Las Palmas Terrace, a restaurant at Las Palmas del Mar.
Rep. Mara did not pay for this meal. Sawyer's records indicate
that Sawyer paid and that Rep. Mara and his spouse's pro rata share
of the cost of the meal was $55.
Rep. Mara and his spouse ate at the Casa Verde restaurant at
Las Palmas del Mar on the evening of December 10, 1992. Again,
Rep. Mara did not pay for the meal. Sawyer's records indicate that
Sawyer paid and the Maras' pro rata share of the cost of the meal
was $70. As to each of the foregoing circumstances, Rep. Mara
testified that although he knew that several Massachusetts
lobbyists were staying at Las Palmas, he did not know who paid for
On December 13, 1992, Rep. Mara and his spouse, along with
Rep. John Cox and his spouse, went on a fishing excursion with
George Traylor and another Massachusetts lobbyist. Rep. Mara
testified that when he and his spouse went on the excursion, he was
under the impression that they were taking the place of certain
other guests who had cancelled at the last moment. The boat was a
40 foot fishing vessel with a captain and one member crew. The
cost of chartering the boat was $383. The boat trip lasted several
hours and included deep sea fishing and a stop for snorkeling. A
box lunch was provided. Rep. Mara did not know what, if any,
arrangements had been made between Traylor and the other lobbyist
to pay for this excursion, although he assumed that one or both of
them were paying for it. In fact, Traylor paid for the charter.
The Maras' pro rata share of the cost of the charter was $128.
12. Between March 10, 1993 and March 14, 1993, Rep. Mara and
his spouse stayed at the Plantation Resort at Amelia Island,
Florida where he had registered for an educational conference
sponsored by the Conference of Insurance Legislators. Rep. Mara
stayed at the Plantation Resort with a number of other legislators
and Massachusetts lobbyists.
On the evening of March 12, 1993, Rep. Mara and his wife ate
dinner at the Ritz Carlton with a group of Massachusetts
legislators and lobbyists. Rep. Mara understood that one or more
lobbyists paid for the dinner, although he did not know who.
Carroll, the lobbyist representing LIAM, paid for this dinner.
The total cost of the dinner was approximately $3,000. The Maras'
pro rata share of the cost of the dinner was approximately $150.
13. 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.
14. Massachusetts legislators are state employees.
15. Anything worth $50 or more is of substantial value for
16. By accepting a total of $171 in drinks and theater ticket
entertainment from Sawyer on September 19, 1992, and a $128 fishing
boat excursion from Traylor on December 13, 1992, all while Rep.
Mara was in a position to take official actions which could benefit
those lobbyists, Rep. Mara accepted items of substantial value for
or because of official acts or acts within his official
responsibility performed or to be performed. In doing so he
17. As the facts above indicate, Rep. Mara received, in
addition to the $171 and $128 in gratuities, a total of $275 in
gratuities of $50 or more where he did not know the specific
identity of the source of the entertainment.
18. Section 23(b)(3) 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 circumstances to
conclude that anyone can improperly influence or unduly enjoy his
favor in the performance of his official duties.
19. By accepting entertainment of $50 or more in value where
he did not know the specific identity of the donor, but had reason
to know that the donors were Massachusetts lobbyists, Rep. Mara
acted in a manner which would cause a reasonable person knowing all
these facts to conclude that the lobbyists present could improperly
influence him in the performance of his official duties. In
other words, Rep. Mara knew or had reason to know that his
actions would create an appearance of favoritism. In so doing, he
20. The Commission is aware of no evidence that the
gratuities referenced above were provided to Rep. Mara 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 that Rep. Mara 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
21. Rep. Mara cooperated with the Commission's investigation.
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Rep.
Mara, 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. Mara:
(1) that Rep. Mara pay to the Commission the sum of one
thousand, seven hundred dollars ($1,700.00) for violating
G.L. c. 268A, s. 3(b) and 23(b)(3); and
(2) that Rep. Mara waive all rights to contest the
findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and
conditions contained in this agreement and in any related
administrative or judicial proceedings to which the
Commission is or may be a party.
 These numbers in parentheses reflect the cost of the
entertainment for Rep. Mara and his spouse.
 According to his testimony, Rep. Mara attended conference
sessions on March 12 and 13.
 The Commission has evidence Carroll subsequently received
contributions of $500 and $600 from two of the Massachusetts
lobbyists who were at this meal.
 See Commonwealth v. Famigletti, 4 Mass. App. Ct. 584, 587
 See para. 20.
 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.
Rep. Mara has argued that s.3 does not apply to meals given to
legislators. There is nothing in the legislative history regarding
s.3 or the language of s.3 to support that argument. In the
Commission's view, s.3 applies to any form of entertainment,
including meals, given to any public official.
On the present facts, s.3 applies to the lobbyists
entertaining Rep. Mara where the intent was generally to create
goodwill and the opportunity for access, even though specific
legislation was not discussed.
 12/8/92 ($55); 12/10/92 ($70) and 3/12/93 ($150).
 Moreover, the possibility can never be eliminated that Rep.
Mara would later be told of the specific sources of the various
gratuities described above. This only adds to the appearance
concern created by such conduct.
 This conduct also raises issues under s.3, discussed above.
Nothing in s.3 requires that the public official know the source of
the gift. All that is required is that the public
official know that he is receiving the gift for or because of
official acts or acts within his official responsibility. On the
foregoing facts, that could be inferred even though Rep. Mara did
not know the specific identity of the donor. In any event, because
this is a matter of first impression, the Commission has decided to
resolve this conduct pursuant to s.23.
 As discussed above in footnote 6, 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. Mara.
 This amount is approximately three times the value of the $574
in prohibited gratuities received by Rep. Mara in violation of s.3
and s.23(b)(3). It represents both a disgorgment of the gratuities
and a civil sanction.