MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING

June 16, 2011

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 and Martin F. Murphy. Commissioner Paula Finley Mangum was absent.

 

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner Murphy, seconded by Commissioner King, the Commission voted 4-0 to waive the reading and approve the public session and executive session minutes for the May 20, 2011 meeting.

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT

Budget

Executive Director Karen L. Nober reported to the Commission that the budget is not yet final. The House-Senate Conference Committee is continuing its work on the budget. Once approved, the budget will be sent to the Governor for approval. Ms. Nober said that Senator Brian Joyce filed an amendment on the classification of Commission employees at the Commission's request, and it was included in the final version of the Senate's budget. Ms. Nober has discussed the amendment with the Governor's legal office.


SFI Matters

Ms. Nober reported that 6 current and 31 former public employees required to file 2010 SFIs have yet to do so. The Commission has contacted the agencies of the six current employees and is following up with the 31 former employees. There was some confusion about the filing deadline for former elected officials. They are required to file by the same date as appointed employees. Eleven former elected officials have yet to file, but the Commission is working with them to file as soon as possible. None is considered a late filer at this time.

Ms. Nober stated that the Boston Globe wrote an article on SFIs in connection with the DiMasi matter, and the article suggested that the monetary categories for reporting purposes are too low, that the income of public employees' spouses should be reported, that SFIs should be available online but are not due to the notification requirement, and that credit card and primary residence mortgage amounts are not reported on the SFI but should be. Ms. Nober agreed that the monetary categories are too low, but suggested that we do not need to ask for spouses' incomes since we already ask where they work. She said that staff will be reviewing historical documents to better understand how the statutory requirements were developed and the basis for the decisions that were made. Staff will be revising the SFI form to make it easier to understand and not contain any information that will have to be redacted.

Chairman Swartwood suggested researching the practices of other jurisdictions that require SFIs, and General Counsel Deirdre Roney reported that she has researched how other states handle SFIs, and most require that the same information be reported.


Posting Disclosures Online

Ms. Nober noted that at the last meeting, the Commission approved posting information concerning disclosures filed with the Commission on the website. Ms. Nober said that she plans to review with the Commission how the information will appear on the website. Disclosures probably will not be posted on the website until September or October due to an ongoing website migration project, which will necessitate a content freeze in the coming months.

 

Section 6 Disclosures

Ms. Nober presented section 6 disclosures submitted by herself, General Counsel Deirdre Roney and Chief Financial Officer/Director of Budget and Administration Michael Memmolo concerning their participation in policy matters that might affect their own financial interests. Ms. Nober explained the intent of the disclosures. After discussion by the Commission, on the motion of Commissioner Murphy, seconded by Commissioner King, the Commission voted 4-0 to approve determinations, in accordance with section 6 of c. 268A as to each employee, to allow their participation in policy matters that might affect their own financial interests, except for matters which uniquely affect their financial interests, as follows:

 

  1. To authorize the Executive Director, in consultation with the General Counsel and/or Chief Financial Officer/Director of Budget and Administration ("CFO"), to participate in policy recommendations and decisions that affect the financial interests of all Commission staff or that affect the financial interests of all managerial employees, in which the Executive Director has a reasonably foreseeable financial interest; provided, that the Executive Director shall not participate in any decision regarding any pay increase for herself or in any other recommendations or decisions which uniquely affect her financial interests;

  2. to authorize the General Counsel, in consultation with the Executive Director and/or CFO, to participate in policy recommendations and decisions that affect the financial interests of all Commission staff or that affect the financial interests of all managerial employees, in which the General Counsel has a reasonably foreseeable financial interest; provided, that the General Counsel shall not participate in any decision regarding any pay increase for herself or in any other recommendations or decisions which uniquely affect her financial interests; and

  3. to authorize the CFO, in consultation with the General Counsel and/or Executive Director, to participate in policy recommendations and decisions affecting the financial interests of all Commission staff or the financial interests of all managerial employees, in which the CFO has a reasonably foreseeable financial interest; provided, that the CFO shall not participate in any decision regarding any pay increase for himself or in any other recommendations or decisions which uniquely affect his financial interests;


Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee

Ms. Nober noted that the Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee, chaired by Commissioner Mangum, has been cancelled. Ms. Nober will inform the Commissioners of the new Committee meeting date once it has been rescheduled.
 

Next Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 15, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. Following the meeting, the Enforcement Committee, chaired by Commissioner Murphy, is scheduled to meet at noon to discuss case selection criteria and the deferral policy.

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION MATTERS

Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti provided his report of public education division activities for May, 2011. Mr. Giannotti also discussed the status of SFI form redactions in anticipation of media requests for certain SFIs, and the website migration project.


LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Regulations

General Counsel Deirdre Roney reported that she will soon present for the Commission's review draft amendments to some of the regulations as well as new proposed regulations.

 

Legal Division Metrics

General Counsel Deirdre Roney presented the following Legal Division metrics for May 2011.

 

  • Written advice. In April 2011, the Legal Division answered by letter or email 44 written requests for advisory opinions.

For comparison: 2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform): 31
2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform): 52

 

  • Oral advice. During this same period, Legal Division attorneys provided legal advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis to 481 persons.

For comparison: 2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform): 280
2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform): 450

 

  • Review of municipal letters. The Legal Division reviewed 7 letters issued by city solicitors/town counsel pursuant to G.L. c. 268A, § 22 and 930 CMR 1.03.

For comparison: 2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform): 6
2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform): 8

 

  • Backlog. The Legal Division has 1 pending request for written advice that is more than 30 days old, received April 27, 2011. There are a total of 14 pending requests for written advice.

The Commission had no questions.

 

Litigation Matters

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

  • Thomas Jefferson v. SEC, SUCV2010-02009-C. Chapter 30A appeal from the Commission's April 28, 2010 decision finding that Jefferson violated §§ 23(b)(2) and (3). In a Memorandum and Order dated April 19, 2011, Judge Cratsley upheld the Commission's decision. Jefferson will have 60 days to appeal after notice of entry of judgment, which has not yet occurred.

  • Theresa Lord Piatelli v. SEC, SUCV2010-02123-B. Chapter 30A appeal from the Commission's April 26, 2010 decision finding that Piatelli violated §§ 17 and 23(b)(2). The Court granted Piatelli's motion for an extension of time to move for judgment on the pleadings. Her motion is due on June 21, 2011.

 

The Commission had no questions.

 

Adjudicatory Matters

Ms. Roney presented the calendar of hearing dates and pre-hearing conferences in pending Commission adjudicatory proceedings. The Commission had no questions.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 9:27 a.m., on the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Veator, the Commission voted 4-0 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, summons authorization requests, closing memoranda, disposition agreements, public and private education letters, and advisory opinions.

 

VOTE:    Chairman Swartwood         yes

               Commissioner Veator         yes

               Commission King               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 June 16, 2011.

  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for May 20, 2011 Public Session and Executive Session.

  3. Section 6 Disclosure by Executive Director Karen L. Nober, dated June 16, 2011.

  4. Section 6 Disclosure by General Counsel Deirdre Roney, dated June 16, 2011.

  5. Section 6 Disclosure by Chief Financial Officer Michael Memmolo, dated June 16, 2011.

  6. Document containing the requested votes approving the section 6 determinations pursuant to the section 6 disclosures by the Executive Director, General Counsel and Chief Financial Officer.

  7. Memorandum of David Giannotti, dated June 9, 2011, concerning Public Education and Communications Division activities for May 2011.

  8. Memorandum of Deirdre Roney to the Commission, dated June 8, 2011 setting forth Legal Division matters for meeting.

Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.

 

Respectfully submitted,

David Giannotti
Public Education and Communications
Division Chief