MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING

December 17, 2010

One Ashburton Place, Room 619

Boston, MA 02108


PUBLIC SESSION

 

MEETING CONVENED


Chairman Charles B. Swartwood, III called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. Also in attendance were Commissioners David L. Veator, Patrick J. King, Paula Finley Mangum and Martin F. Murphy.


APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES


On the motion of Commissioner Veator, seconded by Commissioner King, the Commission voted 5-0 to waive the reading and approve the public session and executive session minutes for the November 19, 2010 meeting.


EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT


Budget


Executive Director Karen L. Nober reported that the FY 2012 budget outlook is very grim. The Governor will release his proposed state budget for the new fiscal year in January. We will then submit our budget request to the Legislature.


Council on Government Ethics Laws (COGEL)


Ms. Nober stated that she and General Counsel Deirdre Roney recently returned from the annual COGEL conference, held this year in Washington D.C. This was the first COGEL conference they attended, and they found the programs useful, especially those on online training, financial disclosure and strategic planning. Next year's conference will be held in Nashville.


New Legislator School


Ms. Nober said that she presented information on the conflict law to newly elected legislators at the program for newly elected legislators held recently at UMass-Amherst.


Open Meeting Law Review of Executive Session Meeting Minutes


Ms. Nober stated that she planned to conduct a required review of the executive session meeting minutes to comply with the Open Meeting Law.


Next Meeting


Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, January 21, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.


PUBLIC EDUCATION MATTERS


Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti provided his report of public education division activities for November, 2010. He also stated that the 2008 Rulings, the Commission publication of advisory opinions and enforcement actions, had been issued. He recognized the efforts of Public Education Division Special Counsel Norah Mallam in drafting the Rulings. He reported that the 2009 Rulings should be issued within the next several months, and the 2010 Rulings should be issued on schedule in February 2011.

Mr. Giannotti reported that all elected state and county officials, all state and county agencies and municipalities and independent municipal districts have been notified of the conflict of interest law education requirement, the distribution of the summary of the conflict law, to be completed this year. He has fielded numerous emails and telephone calls concerning the requirement. The Commission is also responsible for collecting acknowledgments from all elected state and county officials, and Mr. Giannotti is working to collect the acknowledgments.

Mr. Giannotti stated that the meeting minutes will now include a list of all documents used by the Commission during the meetings, to comply with the Open Meeting Law.

The Commission had no questions.


LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Legal Division Metrics


Ms. Roney presented the Legal Division metrics for November 2010. The division handled 32 staff letters and email requests for written advice; 268 telephone or walk-in contacts in which oral advice was provided; and reviewed 5 municipal counsel opinions. Six opinion requests for written advice are older than 30 days, and 22 requests for written advice are pending.


The Commission had no questions.


New Regulations


Ms. Roney stated that the new regulations went into effect on December 10, 2010. Most questions about the regulations concern teacher gifts.


Draft Political Activity Advisories


Ms. Roney presented the most recent drafts of the Political Activity advisories. Ms. Roney will share the drafts with interested parties and will have revised drafts for review by the Commission at the January meeting.


Adjudicatory Matters


Ms. Roney presented a calendar of hearing dates and pre-hearing conferences in pending Commission adjudicatory proceedings, and a monthly status report of adjudicatory proceedings.


The Commission had no questions.


Litigation Matters


Ms. Roney provided an update on the following litigation matters:


A. John F. Scott v. Commonwealth. Scott filed a Chapter 30A appeal from the Commission's October 8, 2009 decision finding that he violated §3(a) and has made an exceedingly perfunctory motion for judgment on the pleadings. Public Education Division Special Counsel Norah Mallam argued the case before Judge Brady in Dedham. Ms. Roney commended Ms. Mallam for her efforts.


B. Lincoln Smith v. Commonwealth. Chapter 30A appeal from the Commission's 8/18/08 decision finding Smith had violated § 23(b)(2). Judge Cratsley denied Smith's motion for reconsideration of his decision upholding the Commission's decision. Smith has filed a notice of appeal. The Appeals Court, on October 6, 2010, treated Smith's motion for an extension of time to find new counsel as a motion for a stay, and stayed the matter until November 15, 2010, requiring him to file a status report on whether he has found new counsel by that time. The deadline has passed, and the Legal Division will move to have the case dismissed.


C. Thomas Jefferson v. SEC. Chapter 30A appeal from the Commission's April 28, 2010 decision finding that he violated §§ 23(b)(2) and (3). We have filed the record. Jefferson's motion to include in record evidence not before Commission was recently denied.


D. Theresa Lord Piatelli v. SEC. Chapter 30A appeal from the Commission's April 26, 2010 decision finding that she violated §§ 17 and 23(b)(2). We will file the record shortly.


E. Aiello v. Manzi. Subpoena seeks our investigative file in a federal civil case. Ms. Roney reported that the matter has been resolved.


The Commission had no questions.


Ware Report


Ms. Roney reported that she filed a motion with the Supreme Judicial Court to amend its impoundment order to allow the Commission access to the exhibits identified in the Ware Report that are subject to an impoundment order.


EXECUTIVE SESSION


At 9:18 a.m., on the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Murphy, the Commission voted 5-0 to enter into executive session to discuss matters subject to the provisions of G.L. c. 30A, section 21, subparagraphs (a)(7), and G.L. c. 268B, sections 3 and 4. Chairman Swartwood stated that these matters will include preliminary inquiry reports and recommendations, summons authorization requests, closing memoranda, disposition agreements, public and private education letters and advisory opinions.


VOTE: Chairman Swartwood          yes

            Commissioner Veator           yes

            Commissioner King              yes

            Commissioner Mangum        yes

            Commissioner Murphy         yes

 

Chairman Swartwood stated that the Commission would not reconvene in public session following the executive session.


LIST OF DOCUMENTS USED FOR THIS MEETING

  1. Agenda for Meeting of December 17, 2010.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for November 19, 2010, Public Session and Executive Session.
  3. Memorandum of David Giannotti dated December 10, 2010, concerning Public Education and Communications Division activities for October 2010.
  4. Memorandum from Deirdre Roney to Commission dated December 9, 2010 setting forth Legal Division matters for meeting.
  5. Draft Advisory 10-2: Elected Public Employees and Election-Related Political Activity.
  6. Draft Advisory 10-3: Appointed Public Employees and Election-Related Political Activity.
  7. Draft Advisory 10-3: Political Activity of Elected and Appointed Public Employees Not Involving Elections.
  8. Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
  9. Legal Division Monthly Pending Adjudicatory Proceeding Status Report.


Respectfully submitted,

 

David Giannotti
Public Education and Communications Division Chief