MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
April 19, 2013

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 Paula Finley Mangum and Martin F. Murphy.  Commissioner William J. Trach participated in the meeting by conference call.  Commissioner Quinlan was absent.

Chairman Swartwood determined that an emergency situation existed in the City of Boston and surrounding communities which prevented Commissioner Trach from being present at the meeting.  Pursuant to the open meeting law, and the Commission’s prior vote to permit remote participation, Chairman Swartwood approved of Commissioner Trach participating in the meeting by telephone, using the speakerphone.

CLOSING ARGUMENTS

In Re Richard McClure, Docket No. 12-0011:  Due to an ongoing emergency in the City of Boston and surrounding communities, the parties could not be present to conduct closing arguments.  The Commissioners agreed by consensus to continue closing arguments until the May 17, 2013 Commission meeting.

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Murphy, the Commission voted 3-0, with Commissioner Mangum abstaining because she was not present at the meeting, to waive the reading and approve the public session and executive session minutes for the March 15, 2013 meeting. 

VOTE:                        

Chairman Swartwood                         yes
Commissioner Mangum                      abstain
Commissioner Murphy                        yes
Commissioner Trach                           yes      

On the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Mangum, the Commission voted 3-0, with Commissioner Murphy abstaining because he was not present at the meeting, to waive the reading and approve the public session and executive session minutes for the March 27, 2013 meeting. 

VOTE:                        

Chairman Swartwood                         yes
Commissioner Mangum                      yes
Commissioner Murphy                        abstain
Commissioner Trach                           yes      

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Budget

Executive Director Karen L. Nober reported that the House budget was released last week, and the budget recommendation for the Commission for FY 2014 was the same amount that was included in the Governor’s budget.  Ms. Nober said that this was the budget amount requested by the Commission.  The deadline to submit budget amendments was last Friday, and it will take time for the House Ways and Means Committee to sort through the amendments.  Ms. Nober said that Representative Peter Kocot filed a budget amendment to increase the Commission’s budget amount by $70,000.  The House has scheduled debate on the budget for next week.

Advisory 13-1: Making and Receiving Job Recommendations for Employment

Ms. Nober reported that she, along with General Counsel Deirdre Roney, Chairman Swartwood and Commissioner Trach, met with members of the House on March 21, 2013 to discuss the advisory.  The overall tone of the meeting was negative and quite different from the earlier meeting with the Senate.  Notwithstanding the tone, some legitimate questions and issues were raised, such as who we consider a “constituent” for the purposes of the advisory, and these issues will be presented for discussion later in the meeting by Ms. Roney.  Ms. Nober state that, since the meeting took place, she has spoken with Representative Garrett Bradley, who has offered to discuss the outstanding issues.  Ms. Nober stated that Rep. Bradley is an attorney and a member of the Speaker’s leadership team, and suggested that she, Ms. Roney and Chairman Swartwood meet with Rep. Bradley to have those discussions.  She suggested that the Commission’s Legal Division should then meet to consider next steps.  Ms. Nober said she would like the Commission’s input on the issues that will be presented for discussion.  The Commissioners discussed the meeting with the House members and expressed support for the process going forward suggested by Ms. Nober.

Office Renovations

Ms. Nober said that CFO Michael Memmolo has been working to clear equipment and file cabinets that are no longer needed from the office.  Legal Division Administrative Assistant Theresa Meli Omodei has prepared Legal Division files for archiving.  Contractors will begin work next week to remove the high density file system in the Legal Division, and then construct a new work station for Public Education and Communications Division Administrative Assistant Carolyn Teehan.  A new office will be built where Ms. Teehan’s work station is currently located so that Information Technology Specialist Tony Webb will have an office near the network servers.  Public Education and Communications Division Deputy Chief Marisa Donelan will then move from an open work station into the office vacated by Mr. Webb.

SFI

Ms. Nober stated that Legal Division Deputy Chief/SFI Lauren Duca had planned to provide an update, but she could not attend the meeting due to the ongoing emergency in the City of Boston and surrounding communities.  Ms. Nober said that the number of 2012 SFIs filed so far is at a similar level compared with prior years.  Ms. Nober reminded Commissioners to file their 2012 SFIs.

Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee

Ms. Nober said that the Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee, chaired by Commissioner Mangum, will meet at 12:30 p.m. today to review the Commission’s compensatory time policy and internal controls plan.

Next Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 17, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.  The Commission agreed that the closing arguments in both the McClure matter and the Jacques matter would take place at the May 17 meeting with McClure scheduled first at 9:00 a.m.

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION MATTERS

Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti presented his report of Public Education Division activities for March 2013.  Mr. Giannotti noted in his report that he and Public Education Division and Communications Division Deputy Chief Marisa Donelan received more than 400 telephone calls and emails in March concerning the online training programs.  He expressed his appreciation for Ms. Donelan’s efforts in handling such a high call volume.

The Commission had no questions.

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Advisory 13-1: Making and Receiving Recommendations for Employment

General Counsel Deirdre Roney and Ms. Nober presented a memorandum discussing questions presented by legislators during recent meetings to discuss the advisory along with other issues to be considered.  After discussion of the issues detailed in the memorandum, the Commission, by consensus, agreed with Ms. Nober’s suggested approach.  Ms. Nober and Ms. Roney stated that they would present additional information at the next Commission meeting.

Legal Division Metrics

Ms. Roney presented the following Legal Division metrics for March, 2013.

  • Written advice.  In January 2013, the Legal Division answered by letter or email 51 written requests for advisory opinions under G.L. c. 268A and c. 268B.

      For comparison:    2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform):   31                                    
                                   2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform):  52                                   
                                   March 2012 (same month last year):               58                                    
                                   February 2013 (last month):                            29

  • Oral advice.  During this same period, Legal Division attorneys provided legal advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis to 600 persons.

     For comparison:    2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform):   280                                    
                                   2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform):  450                                    
                                   March 2012 (same month last year):               506
                                   February 2013 (last month):                            431

  • Review of municipal letters.  The Legal Division reviewed 8 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
                                   March 2012 (same month last year):               4
                                   February 2013 (last month):                            0

 

  • Backlog.  The Legal Division has 2 pending requests for written advice more than 30 days old.  The requestors have been asked to provide additional information.  There are 26 pending requests for written advice.

The Commission had no questions.

Legal Division Special Projects

Ms. Roney provided the Commission with a list of the special projects currently being worked on by the members of the Legal Division.  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.

In Re Elizabeth Gorski, Docket No. 13-0005:  Ms. Roney requested that the Chairman assign a hearing officer for this adjudicatory matter.  Chairman Swartwood stated that he would serve as the hearing officer. 

Litigation Matters

Theresa Lord Piatelli v. SEC, 2012-P-0612:  Ms. Roney reported that the matter was argued in the Appeals Court on February 7, 2013.  The matter remains under advisement.  

Leder v. Rigby, SJC-11224:  The Commission submitted an amicus brief in the matter.  The case was argued on February 7, 2013, and remains under advisement.

The Commission had no questions.

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS

Enforcement Division Metrics

Enforcement Division Staff Counsel Candies Pruitt-Doncaster presented a report on the Enforcement Division’s FY 2013 third quarter metrics.  The Commission had no questions.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 10:21 a.m., on the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Mangum, the Commission voted 4-0 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 investigatory matters, cases deferred, preliminary inquiry recommendations and reports, summons authorization requests, disposition agreements, closing memoranda, public and private education letters, and advisory opinions. 

VOTE:                       
Chairman Swartwood                         yes
Commissioner Mangum                      yes
Commissioner Murphy                        yes      
Commissioner Trach                           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 the Commission Meeting of April 19, 2013.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for March 15, 2013 Public Session and Executive Session.
  3. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for March 27, 2013 Public Session and Executive Session.
  1. Memorandum dated April 11, 2013 from David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division activities for March 2013.
  1. Memorandum dated April 11, 2013 from Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for meeting.
  1. Memorandum dated April 11, 2013 from Karen L. Nober and Deirdre Roney presenting questions concerning Advisory 13-1.
  2. Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
  1. Memorandum dated April 11, 2013 from Stephen P. Fauteux to the Commission presenting Enforcement Division metrics as of March 31, 2013.

Respectfully submitted,                                             

David Giannotti
Public Education and Communications
Division Chief