MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
October 14, 2010
One Ashburton Place, Room 619
Boston, MA 02108
Chairman Charles B. Swartwood, III called the meeting to order at 9:02 a.m. Also in attendance were Commissioners David L. Veator, Patrick J. King, Paula Finley Mangum and Martin F. Murphy.
Chairman Swartwood welcomed newly-appointed Commissioner Martin F. Murphy to the Commission.
APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES
On the motion of Commissioner King, seconded by Commissioner Mangum, the Commission voted 4-0, with Commissioner Murphy abstaining, to waive the reading and approve the public session and executive session minutes for the September 10, 2010 meeting.
APPOINTMENT OF THE VICE-CHAIR
After discussion by the Commission, on the motion of Commissioner Mangum, seconded by Commissioner King, the Commission voted 5-0 to appoint Commissioner Veator as the Commission Vice-Chair.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT
Executive Director Karen L. Nober introduced Michael Memmolo as the new CFO/Director of Budget and Administration. Ms. Nober reviewed Mr. Memmolo's qualifications. The Commissioners welcomed Mr. Memmolo and extended their best wishes for his success.
Ms. Nober updated the Commission on the investigator vacancy and reported that 175 applications were received. Interviews have been completed, with 15 applicants invited for an initial interview and five applicants invited for additional interviews. Reference checks, background investigation and employment application completion are pending, and Ms. Nober said that she expected to make an employment offer for the position shortly.
Ms. Nober reported that budget spending plans for FY 2012 and FY 2013 were submitted, and that work will begin on a budget expansion request. Ms. Nober said she will request funding for a second part-time receptionist, a full-time staff position for the Public Education and Communications Division and money for information technology resources such as the online training and the SFI electronic filing application
Committee of the Commission
Ms. Nober stated that Commissioner Kempthorne, whose term on the Commission has expired, served as the Enforcement Committee chair. She explained that the Commission established several committees and each Commissioner serves as the chair of one of the committees, and she and Chairman Swartwood each serve as a member of each committee. Chairman Swartwood identified the committees: Audit, Finance and Human Resources, Legal; External Relations and Technology; and Enforcement. Commissioner Murphy was appointed chairman of the Enforcement Committee by consensus.
The Legal Committee of the Commission, chaired by Commissioner Veator, has met once to revise the Political Activity advisory. The next meeting date was scheduled for Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.
Ms. Nober invited all Commissioners to attend the committee meeting.
Ms. Nober stated that two public hearings were conducted in connection with the proposed regulations during the week of September 20 th, the first of which was at Holyoke Community College, which was attended by 10 town clerks and Representative Peter Kocot. Issues raised at that public hearing will be discussed further by General Counsel Deirdre Roney. The second public hearing was held in Boston that week. Chairman Swartwood, Ms. Nober and Ms. Roney attended both hearings, and Commissioner Mangum attended the one in Boston. Substantial written comments were received concerning the proposed regulations.
Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, November 19, 2010 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 September, 2010. The Commission had no questions.
LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS
Ms. Roney presented her report on public comments received on the proposed regulations. She highlighted certain comments for the Commission's review and discussion. Ms. Roney said she planned to request a final vote on the regulations at the Commission's November meeting, after which the regulations will be posted in the Massachusetts Register. If the regulations are posted by the November 26, 2010 deadline, they will take effect on December 10, 2010. The following draft regulations were reviewed and discussed by the Commission:
a. 1.02(8)(e) - Statute of Limitations;
b. 5.05 - Definition of Substantial Value;
c. 5.08(2),(3) - Exemption allowing paid travel expenses;
d. 5.08(4) - Exemption allowing incidental hospitality related to attendance at certain events;
e. 5.08(5)(d) - Exemption allowing paid travel expenses for legitimate speaking engagements;
f. 5.08(7) - Exemption allowing awards for meritorious service;
g. 5.08(9) - Exemption allowing gifts among public employees;
h. 5.09(2) - Lobbyist gift exemption;
i. 6.10(2) - Exemption permitting real estate conveyances by public employees;
j. 6.11 - Exemption permitting public employees to hold additional jobs on premises occupied pursuant to contract or agreement with public agencies;
Commissioner Veator abstained from the discussion of the following proposed regulation and left the meeting room at 10:17 a.m.
k. 6.13(4) - Exemption to permit public agencies to contract with attorneys and other consultants of choice;
Commission Veator returned to the meeting room at 10:18 a.m.
l. 6.19 - Exemption permitting public employees to purchase or rent living units in multi-unit buildings operated and developed pursuant to long-term leases from the employing public agency; and
m. 6.20 - Exemption allowing town clerks to carry out election-related duties.
Legal Division Metrics
Ms. Roney presented the Legal Division metrics for September 2010. The division handled 31 staff letters and email requests for written advice; 328 telephone calls in which oral advice was provided; and reviewed 12 municipal counsel opinions. Six opinion requests for written advice are older than 30 days, and 19 requests for written advice are pending.
The Commission had no questions.
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.
Ms. Roney provided an update on the following litigation matters, a report of which is included in the packet:
- 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. Our response has been served on opposing counsel and we are awaiting scheduling of argument.
- 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.
- Thomas Jefferson v. SEC. Chapter 30A appeal from the Commission's April 28, 2010 decision finding that he violated §§ 23(b)(2) and (3).
- Theresa Lord Piatelli v. SEC. Chapter 30A appeal from the Commission's April 26, 2010 decision finding that Piatelli violated §§ 17 and 23(b)(2).
The Commission had no questions.
At 10:22 a.m., on the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Veator, the Commission voted 5-0 to enter into executive session to discuss matters subject to the provisions of G.L. c. 30A, section 21, subparagraph (a)(7) and G.L. c. 268B, sections 3 and 4. Chairman Swartwood stated that these matters will include preliminary inquiry reports and recommendations, 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.
Public Education and Communications Division Chief