MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
November 21, 2013

One Ashburton Place, Room 619
Boston, MA     02108

PUBLIC SESSION

 

MEETING CONVENED

Chairman Charles B. Swartwood, III called the meeting to order at 12:30 p.m.  Also in attendance were Commissioners Paula Finley Mangum, Martin F. Murphy, William J. Trach and Regina L. Quinlan.  

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Quinlan, the Commission voted 4-0 to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the October 17, 2013 public and executive sessions.  Commissioner Murphy  abstained because he was not present at the Oct. 17 meeting. 

On the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Murphy, the Commission voted 5-0 to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the November 4, 2013 public session.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

New Chairman

Executive Director Karen L. Nober reported that the Governor may appoint a new Chairman soon.  She will inform the Commission as soon as a decision is made.

Public Hearing Schedule

Ms. Nober reported that two public hearings regarding a proposed regulatory exemption have been scheduled.  The first will be held December 13, 2013, at the First District Court facility in Barnstable, and the second will be held December 17, 2013, at 1 Ashburton Place, Boston.  Both public hearings will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Budget

Ms. Nober reported she and Chief Financial Officer Michael Memmolo had a very good meeting with the budget analyst assigned to the Commission from the Executive Office for Administration and Finance regarding the Commission’s FY 2015 budget, and she stated that she planned to have some additional meetings over the next month or so.  Ms. Nober also stated that she had previously intended to meet with ANF and various legislators to discuss the Commission’s proposal to replace the outdated SFI filing and management system during October and November, but that instead will schedule those meetings for early 2014. 

Next Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.  She asked the Commissioners to bring their calendars to the December meeting, so the Commission can select a new regular meeting time for 2014.

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION MATTERS

Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti was unable to attend the meeting.  Division Deputy Chief Marisa Donelan presented Mr. Giannotti’ s report of Public Education Division activities for October 2013.  

The Commission had no questions.

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Legal Division Metrics

General Counsel Deirdre Roney presented the following Legal Division metrics for October 2013.

  • Written advice.  In October 2013, the Legal Division answered by letter or email 36 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                              
October 2012 (same month last year):                           37                              
September 2013 (previous month):                               21

  • Oral advice.  During this same period, Legal Division attorneys provided legal advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis to 472 state, county and municipal officials.

For comparison:     
2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform):                   280                              
2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform):                  450                              
October 2012 (same month last year):                          430                                  
September 2013 (previous month):                               427

  • Review of municipal letters.  The Legal Division reviewed 2 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                              
October 2012 (same month last year):                         10 
September 2013 (previous month):                               3

  • Backlog.  As of today, there are 25 pending requests for written advice that are more than 30 days old, the oldest of which was received on May 15, 2013.  The Legal Division has a total of 37 pending requests for written advice.

Legal Division Special Projects

Ms. Roney provided the Commission with a list of the special projects currently being worked on by members of the Legal Division.  Ms. Roney stated that the Commission will soon receive a draft Advisory regarding public employees’ private dealings with those under their official authority.  Commissioner Murphy asked whether the Legal Division has seen a significant increase in calls for advice regarding Advisory 13-1:  Making and Receiving Job Recommendations.  Ms. Roney stated that there has been an increase.

Adjudicatory Matters

Ms. Roney presented the calendar of hearing dates and pre-hearing conferences in pending Commission adjudicatory proceedings.  Commissioner Mangum was assigned as the hearing officer in In Re Bruce Duarte, and Commissioner Trach was assigned as the hearing officer in In Re Stephen Hyde Sr.

Litigation Matters

Ms. Roney stated that we have been informed by the Middlesex Superior Court Clerk’s Office that Richard McClure has filed a complaint seeking judicial review of the Commission’s August 2, 2013 finding that he violated c. 268A, § 17, but we have not yet been served with papers.

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS

Investigations Unit Metrics

Enforcement Division Deputy Chief, Investigations Katherine Gallant stated that she continues to be pleased with how the reorganization is going.  She presented a report of the Investigations Unit activities for October 2013.  The Commission had no questions. 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 12:42 p.m., on the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Trach, 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 investigatory matters, cases deferred, preliminary inquiry recommendations and reports, summons authorization requests, disposition agreements, public and private education letters, advisory opinions and deliberations. 

VOTE:             

Chairman Swartwood                           yes                                   
Commissioner Mangum                        yes                                          
Commissioner Murphy                        yes
Commissioner Trach                             yes
Commissioner Quinlan                          yes      

Chairman Swartwood stated that the Commission would not reconvene in public session following the executive session.

LIST OF DOCUMENTS USED AT THIS MEETING

  1. Agenda for the Commission Meeting of November 21, 2013.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the October 17, 2013 Public and Executive Session. 
  3. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Special Meeting for the November 4, 2013 Public Session.
  4. Memorandum dated November 14, 2013 from David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division activities for October 2013.
  5. Memorandum dated November 14, 2013 from Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for the meeting.
  6. Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
  7. Report of Enforcement Divisions Investigations Unit Metrics and Attorney Metrics.

Respectfully submitted, 

Marisa Donelan
Public Education and Communications
Division Deputy Chief