In the Matter of Carl G. Christianson, Jr.
October 25, 2007
This Disposition Agreement is entered into between the State Ethics Commission and Carl G. Christianson, Jr., pursuant to Section 5 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented-to final order enforceable in Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s. 4(j).
On May 9, 2007, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s. 4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Christianson. The Commission concluded its inquiry and, on September 21, 2007, found reasonable cause to believe that Christianson violated G.L. c. 268A.
The Commission and Christianson now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
Findings of Fact
1. Christianson is the Rutland Department of Public Works (DPW) supervisor. As the DPW Supervisor, Christianson oversees the town's highway, parks, cemetery, and water and sewer departments. His appointing authority is the Board of Selectmen (BOS), which also serves as the Board of Public Works. The BOS has sole authority to hire and fire DPW employees and also sets their compensation.
2. In September 2006, an opening for a full-time operator/laborer position occurred in the DPW sewer department. Without following the standard hiring process, which includes publicly advertising the open position and interviewing candidates, Christianson recommended that his son be appointed to the position.
3. At the October 10, 2006 BOS meeting, the BOS voted to approve Christianson's recommendation to hire his son. The BOS was aware that Christianson was recommending his son but was not aware that the standard hiring process had not occurred.
4. In January 2007, the State Ethics Commission Enforcement Division staff made inquires to Christianson about the hiring and requested relevant documents.
5. Shortly thereafter, Christianson used a DPW computer to access DPW department computer files, and he created a posting for the operator/laborer position. In an attempt to thwart the Commission's investigation, Christianson had a copy of the fraudulent posting forwarded to the Commission.
6. In early summer of 2007, Christianson admitted to the Commission that he created the posting after the hiring in order to cover-up the fact that proper procedures had not been followed.
7. As the Rutland DPW supervisor, Christianson was a municipal employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s. 1(g).
8. Section 19 of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a municipal employee from participating as such an employee in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he or an immediate family member has a financial interest.
9. The hiring of the DPW operator/laborer position was a particular matter.
10. Christianson participated in this particular matter by recommending that his son be hired for the operator/laborer position.
11. Christianson's son is an immediate family member as that term is defined by the conflict law.
12. Where the DPW operator/laborer position was a compensated position, Christianson's son had a financial interest in the hiring. Christianson knew his son had this financial interest.
13. Therefore, Christianson violated s.19 by recommending that his son be hired for the DPW operator/laborer position.
14. Section 23(b)(2) of G.L. c. 268A 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 which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals.
15. Where the standard hiring procedure was not followed, Christianson's son's appointment to the DPW operator/laborer position was an unwarranted privilege.
16. Christianson's son's preferential hiring was an unwarranted privilege of substantial value given that his position was compensated.
17. Christianson used his DPW supervisor position to obtain for his son the substantially valuable unwarranted privilege of his preferential hiring by not following the standard hiring procedure but then nevertheless recommending to the BOS that his son be hired for the DPW operator/laborer position.
18. This privilege of being hired without following the standard hiring procedure was not otherwise properly available to similarly situated individuals.
19. Therefore, by recommending that his son be hired for the DPW operator/laborer position without following the standard hiring procedures, Christianson knowingly or with reason to know used his DPW supervisor position to secure for his son an unwarranted privilege of substantial value that was not properly available to similarly situated individuals, violating s. 23(b) (2).
20. Christianson's attempted cover-up, through the creation of fraudulent documents, was an unwarranted privilege.
21. The unwarranted privilege was of substantial value to Christianson because if he had been successful, Christenson may have been able to avoid the penalties and negative consequences associated with the charge that he failed to follow standard operating procedures in the hiring.
22. Christianson used his DPW supervisor position to gain access to the DPW computer files, which enabled him to create a fraudulent document concerning the posting of the DPW operator/laborer position. It was also by virtue of his official position that he was able to forward that misleading document to the Commission.
23. Christianson's access to and use of the DPW computer to attempt to cover-up his misconduct was a privilege that was not otherwise properly available to similarly situated individuals.
24. Therefore, by attempting to cover up, through the creation of fraudulent documents and misstatements, his failure to follow standard operating procedures in the hiring of his son for the DPW operator/laborer position, Christianson knowingly or with reason to know used his DPW supervisor position to secure an unwarranted privilege and/or exemption of substantial value that was not properly available to similarly situated individuals, violating s. 23(b) (2).
In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A by Christianson, 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 Christianson:
(1) that Christianson pay to the Commission the sum of $5,000 as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.s. 19 and 23(b)(2); and
(2) that he waive all rights to contest the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement in this or any other related administrative or judicial proceedings to which the Commission is or may be a party.
STATE ETHICS COMMISSION
Acting Executive Director
October 25, 2007
/s/Carl G. Christianson, Jr.
October 2, 2007
I, Carl G. Christianson, 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 $5,000.00 to the State Ethics Commission.
/s/Carl G. Christianson, Jr.
October 2, 2007