Docket No. 541
IN THE MATTER OF HARLEY KEELER
Date: January 30, 1996
This Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") is entered into
between the State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and Harley
Keeler ("Keeler") 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 July 11, 1995, 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 Keeler. The
Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on September 13, 1995,
found reasonable cause to believe that Keeler violated G.L. c.
The Commission and Keeler now agree to the following findings
of fact and conclusions of law:
1. At all relevant times, Keeler was employed as the fire
chief for the town of Uxbridge. As such, Keeler was a municipal
employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1(g).
2. In January 1995, the Uxbridge Fire Department posted a
full-time firefighter position.
3. The full-time firefighter position pays an annual salary
of approximately $22,000.
4. Keeler selected two individuals to serve on the selection
committee: the deputy chief and another fire department officer.
Subsequently, Keeler decided to have only the deputy chief
interview the candidates.
5. Five applications for the full-time firefighter position
were taken out but only two were returned. One of the candidates
was Keeler's stepdaughter Melissa Blodgette ("Blodgette").
6. The deputy interviewed the two candidates and recommended
to Keeler that Blodgette receive the position.
7. Keeler, after receiving the deputy's recommendation,
appointed Blodgette to the full-time firefighter position.
8. Section 19 of G.L. c. 268A, except as permitted by
paragraph (b) of that section, 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. None of the exceptions contained in s.19(b)
apply in this case.
9. The determination as to whom to hire for the full-time
firefighter position was a particular matter.
10. As set forth above, Keeler participated as fire chief
in that hiring determination first by selecting the interview
committee and then by appointing his stepdaughter to the position.
11. Blodgette, as an applicant for the full-time firefighter
position, had a financial interest in the appointment of that
position. Keeler knew of his stepdaughter's financial interest at
the time he participated in the hiring process.
12. Accordingly, by participating in the full-time
firefighter position hiring process, as set forth above, Keeler
participated in his official capacity in a particular matter in
which he knew an immediate family member had a financial interest,
thereby violating G.L. c. 268A, s.19.
13. Keeler cooperated with the Commission's investigation.
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Keeler,
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 Keeler:
(1) that Keeler pay to the Commission the sum of one
thousand dollars ($1,000.00) as a civil penalty for violating
G.L. c. 268A as stated above;
(2) that Keeler will act in conformance with the requirements
of G.L. c. 268A, s.19 in the future; and
(3) that Keeler 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
 "Immediate family," the employee and his spouse, and their
parents, children, brothers and sisters. G.L. c. 268A, s.1(e).
Blodgette is an immediate family member to Keeler as Blodgette is
his wife's child.
 Section s.19(b)(1) provides that it shall not be a
violation of s.19, "if the municipal employee first advises the
official responsible for appointment to his position of the nature
and circumstances of the particular matter and makes full
disclosure of such financial interest, and receives in advance a
written determination made by that official that the interest
is not so substantial as to be deemed likely to affect the integrity
of the services which the municipality may expect from the
 "Particular matter," any judicial or other proceeding,
application, submission, request for a ruling or other
determination, contract, claim, controversy, charge, accusation,
arrest, decision, determination, finding, but excluding enactment
of general legislation by the general court and petitions of
cities, towns, counties and districts for special laws related to
their governmental organizations, powers, duties, finances and
property. G.L. c. 268A, s.1(k).
 "Participate," participate in agency action or in a
particular matter personally and substantially as a state, county
or municipal employee, through approval, disapproval, decision,
recommendation, the rendering of advice, investigation or
otherwise. G.L. c. 268A, s.1(j).
 On December 31, 1995, Blodgette resigned from the
firefighter position. The position is to be re-posted.
End of Decision