MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
December 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, Paula Finley Mangum and Martin F. Murphy.

 

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner Murphy, seconded by Commissioner Veator, the Commission voted 5-0 to waive the reading and to approve the public session and executive session minutes of the November 18, 2011 meeting.

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION MATTERS

Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti introduced Department of Revenue Employee Training and Development E-Learning Project Manager Paul Tarquinio.  Mr. Tarquinio presented a demonstration of the new state-county online training program.  He explained the course features, navigation and accessibility tools, and knowledge check and course compliance functionality.  The Commissioners expressed their appreciation for the quality of the program and for Mr. Tarquinio’s time and effort to develop the program and provide a demonstration for the Commissioners.

Mr. Giannotti presented his monthly report of public education division activities for November 2011.  The Commission had no questions.

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT

Online Training Programs

Executive Director Karen L. Nober expressed her appreciation to Mr. Tarquinio and Mr. Giannotti for their efforts in putting together the new state-county online program and presenting it to the Commissioners.  She also expressed her appreciation to the members of the staff workgroup involved with developing the new online training programs, Legal Division Deputy Chief-SFI Lauren Duca,  Public Education and Communications Division Special Counsel Norah Mallam, Enforcement Division Deputy Chief Karen Gray, and Enforcement Division Special Investigator Scott Cole.

Part-Time Receptionist

Ms. Nober stated that new part-time receptionist Maria Muller began working at the Commission after the Thanksgiving holiday.  She is learning the Ethos case management application and is performing her duties well.  Part-time receptionist Nubia Villarroel will return to work from leave in January, and the Commission will then be at full strength.

Transparency

Ms. Nober said that the state has initiated an “Open Checkbook” program to increase government transparency.  It applies to all state agencies, and now all budgetary expenditures, including payroll information, is available to the public on the state web portal.  Ms. Nober said she has no concerns about any information about the Commission being available through Open Checkbook.

Budget

Ms. Nober stated that she and Chief Financial Officer Michael Memmolo met with the Commission’s House Ways and Means Committee staff budget analyst to discuss the Commission’s FY 2013 budget.  The meeting was productive.  Ms. Nober said she is also planning to request a meeting with Executive Office of Administration and Finance officials to discuss the Commission’s budget.

Ms. Nober said she intends to seek funding to hire an additional staff person in the Public Education and Communications Division to assist Mr. Giannotti.

Gaming Legislation

Ms. Nober reported that the recently approved gaming bill amended both c. 268A and 268B.  Ms. Nober noted that the gaming bill is general legislation and so does not constitute a particular matter for conflict of interest law purposes.  The gaming bill added language to c. 268A, section 5, the section of the statute that applies to former state employees, by imposing a restriction on public employees who participated in the gaming legislation from working in the gaming industry for one year after they leave public employment.  This restriction applies to former state, county and municipal employees.  Section 6 of c. 268B, the financial disclosure law, which restricts gifts from lobbyists to certain public employees, was amended to add anyone who holds a gaming license to those considered a legislative agent for purposes of section 6.

SFI Matters

Ms. Nober stated that information concerning SFI late-filers who paid civil penalties prior to the issuance of an Order to Show Cause is now on the website for informational purposes. 

COGEL Conference

Ms. Nober said that she and General Counsel Deirdre Roney attended the COGEL conference in Nashville.  Ms. Nober said that they found the sessions useful.  Ms. Nober stated that next year’s COGEL conference will take place in Ohio and, depending on the sessions that are offered, she may look at having other staff members attend the conference.

Next Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, January 20, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. 

 

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS

Proposed Changes to the Enforcement Procedures

Enforcement Division Chief Stephen P. Fauteux presented a memorandum requesting changes to the Enforcement Procedures.  After discussion by the Commission, on the motion of Commissioner Mangum, seconded by Commissioner Veator, the Commission voted 5-0 to amend the Enforcement Procedures, section 4(c), as follows:

Prior to submitting a preliminary inquiry report regarding an alleged violation of G.L. c. 268A, the Enforcement Division will in writing notify the subject of the date the Commission is expected to meet to consider whether to find reasonable cause to believe that a violation of G.L. c. 268A has occurred.  This notice will be mailed no later than thirty (30) days prior to the meeting in question.  The subject may submit a brief written memo (generally not exceeding five pages in length) to the Commission regarding the allegations.  Any such written submission must be received by the Commission at least 20 ten (10) days before the meeting at which it will consider the matter.

This 30-day notice requirement shall not apply if its application would cause the matter to be time-barred under G.L. c. 268B, §4(c) or 930 CMR 1.02(10 8).  In such instances, the Enforcement Division should at least orally notify the subject of its intention to submit a preliminary inquiry report recommendation and of the statute of limitations issue as soon as is practicable. If the subject wants more time to file a written response, the subject will have to enter into a statute of limitations tolling agreement with the Enforcement Division for that limited purpose.

 

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Open Meeting Law Regulation Governing Remote Participation in Commission Meetings

Legal Division Deputy Chief-SFI Lauren E. Duca presented a memorandum concerning the Attorney General’s promulgation of Open Meeting Law regulations authorizing public bodies to permit remote participation in meetings in certain circumstances.  After discussion by the Commission, on the motion of Commissioner Veator, seconded by Commissioner Mangum, the Commission voted 5-0 to permit remote participation by Commissioners in Ethics Commission meetings in conformity with 940 CMR 29.10.

Update on Advisories

General Counsel Deirdre Roney informed the Commission that the Legal Division was preparing advisories on recommendations for employment and solicitation for public and charitable causes.  Draft advisories will be presented for the Commissioner’s review early in 2012.

Legal Division Metrics

Ms. Roney presented the Legal Division’s metrics for November 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. 

Litigation Update

Ms. Roney reported on the status of a pending litigation matter, Theresa Lord Piatelli v. SEC, SUCV2010-02123-B.  Ms. Piatelli has filed a notice of appeal from Judge Giles’ October 19, 2011 Decision and Order upholding the Commission’s decision.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 10:00 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, § 21, subparagraph (a)(7) and G.L. c. 268B, §§ 3 and 4.  Chairman Swartwood stated that these matters will include preliminary inquiry recommendations and reports, 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 after the executive session.

 

LIST OF DOCUMENTS USED FOR THIS MEETING

  1. Meeting Agenda Memorandum, dated December 9, 2011, from Executive Director Karen L. Nober.
  1. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting of November 18, 2011, Public Session and Executive Session.
  1. Memorandum dated December 8, 2011, from Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti reviewing Public Education and Communications Division activities for November 2011.
  1. Memorandum, dated December 6, 2011, from Enforcement Division Chief Stephen P. Fauteux concerning amendments to the Enforcement Procedures.
  1. Memorandum dated December 8, 2011, from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for meeting.
  1. Memorandum dated December 1, 2011 from Legal Division Deputy Chief-SFI Lauren E. Duca concerning the Attorney General’s promulgation of Open Meeting Law regulations concerning remote participation in meetings.
  1. Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission adjudicatory proceedings.

 

Respectfully submitted,                                          
 

David Giannotti
Public Education and Communications Division Chief