Docket No. 355
In the Matter of Rev. Benjamin Lockhart
May 17, 1988
This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into between
the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and the Rev. Benjamin
Lockhart (Rev. Lockhart) pursuant to section 11 of the Commissions
Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented to
final Commission order enforceable in the Superior Court pursuant
to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(d).
On June 30, 1987, the Commission initiated a preliminary inquiry
into possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c.
268A, involving Rev. Lockhart, Agawam Town Councilor. The
Commission concluded its inquiry and, on September 16, 1987, found
reasonable cause to believe that Rev. Lockhart violated G.L. c.
The parties now agree to the following findings of fact and
conclusions of law:
1. Rev. Lockhart has been an Agawam Town Councilor since
October, 1985. This is a part-time, elected position, for which he
receives $2,000 annually. As such he is a municipal employee
subject to the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A.
2. Rev. Lockhart's son, Peter Lockhart, is an Agawam
firefighter and has been so Since 1969. In July, 1986, Rev.
Lockhart's son held the rank of private.
3. On July 7, 1986, the Agawam Town Council, at a regular
council meeting, considered an ordinance authorizing salary
increases for the Agawam Fire Department, The ordinance
specifically listed privates, lieutenants, mechanics, inspectors
and drill masters as the recipients of the salary increases. The
salary increase listed for privates ranged between $1,072 and
$1,238, depending upon the step level of the particular individual.
4. The salary increases called for in the ordinance being
considered by the Council had been negotiated between town counsel
and the firefighter's union during the previous year. Town
councilors did not participate in any matters concerning the
5. The ordinance was passed by a 13 to zero vote, with Rev.
Lockhart voting favorably on the ordinance. Town counsel was
present at the council meeting at the time of the vote, but there
was no discussion regarding G.L. c. 268A.
6. Except as otherwise permitted in that section, s.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 his
immediate family has a financial interest.
7. The salary increase proposed for the particular categories
of firefighters in the ordinance is a particular matter as that
term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1(k).
8. Rev. Lockhart's son's interest in the proposed raise listed
in the ordinance gave him a financial interest in the passage of
9. By voting on passage of the pay raise ordinance, Rev.
Lockhart was personally and substantially involved in its
passage, knowing his son had a financial interest in the
ordinance. Therefore, Rev. Lockhart thereby violated s.19.
10. In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A, s.19,
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 Rev. Lockhart:
1. that he pay to the Commission the amount of two hundred
fifty dollars ($250.00) as a civil penalty for his violation
of s.19; and
2. that he waive all rights to contest the findings of fact,
conclusions of law and terms and conditions proposed under
this Agreement in this or any related administrative or
judicial civil proceeding in which the Commission is or may
be a party.
 None of the exceptions in 19 is relevant here.
 The plain language of s.19 does not require that the
participation be influential or determinative of a result. A s.19
violation can arise despite the fact that the vote was unanimous
In the matter of James Geary, Commission Docket No. 323, October
5, 1987; See. also, In the matter of John Rodgers,Jr.. 1985 SEC
227. The fact that it was a unanimous vote may be considered in
mitigation when determining a fine, however. Geary, supra.
End of Decision