MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
March 15, 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 Martin F. Murphy and William J. Trach.  Commissioners Paula Finley Mangum and Regina Quinlan were absent.

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner Murphy, seconded by Commissioner Trach, the Commission voted 3-0 to waive the reading and approve the public session and executive session minutes for the February 15, 2013 meeting.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Budget Update

Executive Director Karen L. Nober reported that she testified at a budget hearing on February 20 in Worcester, where she asked the Legislature to support the Governor’s House 1 budget, and consider providing an additional $14,000 to cover collective bargaining pay increases.  During the meeting, a state representative expressed his concerns over Advisory 13-1.  He asked whether other states have Ethics Commissions and why there is a need for ethics laws.  Ms. Nober said that she provided information in response to the representative’s questions, and clarified that Advisory 13-1 does not in fact prohibit legislators from making job recommendations for their constituents.  

Meetings with Legislators and the Governor’s Office

Ms. Nober reported that she and General Counsel Deirdre Roney, along with Chairman Swartwood and Commissioner Trach, met with all of the members of the Senate last month in a very productive and useful session.  Ms. Nober and Ms. Roney also attended a cabinet meeting with Governor Patrick and the members of his cabinet, where they discussed the conflict of interest law online training programs and the conflict of interest law.  Ms. Nober stated that she met with House Counsel on March 14 to discuss issues related to the upcoming meeting with the members of the house, scheduled for later in the month.

Disclosures

Ms. Nober stated that lists of all of the conflict of interest law disclosures filed with the Commission beginning as of January 2012 have been posted on the Commission’s website. 

Special Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that a special Commission meeting to conduct deliberations in In Re Guy Glodis has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at 9:00 a.m.

Next Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that the April Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, April 19, 2013, at 9:00 a.m.  In addition, a meeting of the Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee, chaired by Commissioner Mangum, is scheduled for Friday, April 19, 2013, at 12:30 p.m.

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION REPORT

Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti presented his report of Public Education Division activities for February 2013.  Mr. Giannotti thanked Division Deputy Chief Marisa Donelan and Legal Division Administrative Assistant Theresa Meli Omodei for their work in publishing the disclosures on the Commission’s website.  Mr. Giannotti stated that the FY 2012 Annual Report has been published and presented copies to the Commissioners.  

The Commission had no questions.

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Legal Division Metrics

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

  • Written advice.  In February 2013, the Legal Division answered by letter or email 29 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                                   
                                   February 2012 (same month last year):                       32                                    
                                   January 2013 (previous month):                                  30 

  • Oral advice.  During January 2013, Legal Division attorneys provided legal advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis to 431 persons.

     For comparison:    2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform):               280                                    
                                   2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform):             450                                    
                                   February 2012 (same month last year):                       480                                    
                                   January 2013 (previous month):                                  404

  • Review of municipal letters.  The Legal Division reviewed no 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                                    
                                  February 2012 (same month last year):                         9                                    
                                  January 2013 (last month):                                            7

  • Backlog.  As of today, the Legal Division has 3 pending requests for written advice more than 30 days old; they were received January 22 and 28 and February 4, 2013.  The Legal Division is awaiting more information from two of the requestors.  There are 23 pending requests for written advice.

The Commission had no questions.

Legal Division Special Projects

Ms. Roney provided the Commission with a list of 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. 

Ms. Roney requested the Commission assign hearing officers in In the Matter of Algird Sunskis, and in two financial-disclosure cases, In the Matter of Charles Borstel and In the Matter of Michael Byrnes.  Commissioner Trach was assigned to Sunskis, and Chairman Swartwood was assigned to Borstel and Byrnes.

The Commission had no questions.

Litigation Matters

Ms. Roney provided an update on the Commission’s pending litigation matter, Theresa Lord Piatelli v. SEC, 2012-P-0612.  She said that the matter was argued February 7, 2013 in the Appeals Court before Justices Cypher, Kantrowitz and Fecteau.  Amy Bressler Nee argued for the Commission.  The matter is under advisement.

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

The Commission had no questions.

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION

Enforcement Division Chief Stephen P. Fauteux presented the Commission with the Commission’s Deferral Policy.  By consensus, the Commission agreed to make no changes to the policy.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 9:20 a.m., on the motion of  Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Trach, the Commission voted 3-0 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, disposition agreements, summons authorization requests, closing memoranda, public and private education letters and advisory opinions.

VOTE:                        
Chairman Swartwood                         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 March 15, 2013.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for February 15, 2013, Public and Executive Session.
  3. Memorandum dated March 8, 2013 from David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division activities for January 2013.
  4. Memorandum dated March 7, 2013 from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for the meeting.
  5. Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
  6. Memorandum dated March 7, 2013 from Enforcement Division Chief Stephen P. Fauteux to the Commission, including the Division’s Deferral Policy                                              

Respectfully submitted,

Marisa Donelan
Public Education and Communications
Division Deputy Chief