Docket No. 488
In the Matter of Peter B. Morin
May 12, 1994
This Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") is entered into
between the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Peter B. Morin
("Morin") 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 August 9, 1993, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L.
c. 268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into allegations that Morin
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 Morin violated G.L.
c. 268A, s.3.
The Commission and Morin now agree to the following facts and
conclusions of law:
1. Morin served in the state legislature from January 1985
to January 1991. During that time, Morin served on various
committees, including the Committee on Commerce and Labor and the
Committee on Banks and Banking.
2. Morin, as a member of legislative committees,
participated in hearings on bills of interest to the insurance
industry. Such participation included voting on whether such bills
should be reported out of committee. Morin also voted on bills of
interest to the insurance industry when they reached the House
3. 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. At all relevant times, Morin knew that
Sawyer was a Massachusetts registered lobbyist for Hancock.
Hancock, a Massachusetts corporation, is the nation's sixth largest
life insurer doing business in all 50 states. Hancock 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.
4. Lobbyists are employed to promote, oppose or influence
5. 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
6. Annually from 1988 to 1991, Sawyer took a group of
legislators and their guests out for dinner and drinks at a Cape
Cod restaurant. In 1988, the dinner was held at The Regatta
Restaurant in Cotuit. In 1989 through 1991, the annual dinner was
held at the Cranberry Moose Restaurant in Yarmouth Port. The cost
of these dinners was between $736.10 and $1,131.89 annually. Morin
and his wife attended two of these dinners while he was a
legislator, on July 1, 1988 and July 2, 1990. The Morins' pro rata
share of the cost of the 1988 and 1990 dinners and drinks was
$81.79 and $150.91 respectively.
7. Prior to and in conjunction with the July dinners Morin
attended, Morin hosted Sawyer and two legislators for golf at the
Hyannisport Club, a private seaside golf club on Cape Cod where
Morin was a member. In connection with these golf outings, Morin
initially incurred the member's charge for guest greens fees, golf
cart fees, range ball fees and snack, refreshment and/or lunch
charges for Sawyer and the other legislators. Subsequently, Sawyer
reimbursed Morin for the cost of all such fees and charges with
checks drawn on Sawyer's and his wife's joint checking account.
The cost charged to Morin for guest greens fees at the Hyannisport
Club was $25 per golfer.
8. 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.
9. Massachusetts legislators are state employees.
10. Anything worth $50 or more is of substantial value for
11. By accepting a total of $232.70 in drinks and meals from
Sawyer, while Morin was in a position to take official action which
could benefit that lobbyist or his employer, Morin accepted items
of substantial value for or because of official acts or acts within
his official responsibility performed or to be performed by him.
In doing so, Morin violated s.3(b).
12. The Commission is aware of no evidence that the
gratuities or gifts referenced above were provided to Morin 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 Morin took any
official action concerning any proposed legislation which would
affect the registered Massachusetts lobbyist in return for the
gratuities or gifts. However, even though the gratuities were only
intended to foster official goodwill and access, they were still
13. Morin cooperated with the Commission's investigation.
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Morin,
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 Morin:
(1) that Morin pay to the Commission the sum of seven
hundred dollars ($700.00) for violating G.L. c. 268A,
(2) that Morin 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.
DATE ISSUED: May 12, 1994
 According to Morin, he participated in hearings and votes on
legislation of interest to the insurance industry only occasionally
during his service in the legislature.
 Hancock subsequently reimbursed Sawyer for these expenditures.
 According to Morin, the dinners he and his wife were treated to
by Sawyer were in part in return for the access he provided to the
Hyannisport Club for Sawyer and his guests. The evidence does not,
however, establish that Morin's provision of such access was the
predominant motivating factor for Sawyer's inclusion of Morin in
the annual July Fourth weekend dinners rather than that Morin, as
state representative, was in a position to take official action on
legislative matters of interest to Hancock and was thus someone
whose goodwill Sawyer sought to develop and maintain.
 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). 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 Sawyer entertaining Morin
where the intent was generally to create goodwill and the
opportunity for access, even though specific legislation was not
discussed. The fact that part of the motive for the entertainment
may have been legitimate -- i.e., reciprocation for Morin having
provided Sawyer's golf group with access to the Hyannisport Club,
according to Morin -- is not a defense to s. 3. To the extent that
a private relationship is a motivating factor for a gratuity it
must be the motive for the gratuity or s.3 is violated. In re
Flaherty, 1990 SEC 498, 500. That was not the case here.
 As discussed above in footnote 5, 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
bribery section of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, s.2.
Section 2 is not applicable in this case, however, as there is no
evidence of any such quid pro quo between the lobbyist and Morin.
 This amount is approximately three times the value of the
$232.70 in prohibited gratuities received by Morin in violation of
s.3. It represents both a disgorgement of the value of the
gratuities and a civil sanction.