For Immediate Release - March 22, 2006

Former Wendell Board of Health Member Andrew Hamilton Fined $2,000

For Using His Position to Sell a Water Filtration System - Hamilton also refunds $1,112 to Purchaser

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission fined former Wendell Board of Health (BOH) member Andrew Hamilton $2,000 for violating the state's conflict of interest law, M.G.L. c. 268A, by using his position to sell a water filtration system valued at $1,112, to a resident after water from her new well failed to meet certain requirements.

According to the Disposition Agreement, Hamilton as a BOH member met with Reverend Adele Smith-Penniman, who was converting a weekend home to a year-round dwelling, and informed her that her well water's iron and manganese levels, which were tested by an independent laboratory, were too high. Hamilton then told Smith-Penniman that he was going to "change hats" and speak to her in his private capacity. He then sold her a water filtration system. Smith-Penniman felt pressure to purchase the system because Hamilton was on the BOH and because the BOH signs off on building permits. After Smith-Penniman purchased the water filtration system, she did not install it. Usage of the well worked out the contaminants.

Section 23(b)(2) of the conflict law prohibits a public employee from using or attempting to use his position to secure for himself or others an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to similarly situated individuals. By soliciting someone who was subject to a stop work order by the BOH, and by making his solicitation in the course of an official discussion where he addressed the work order issue, Hamilton used his BOH position to influence Smith-Penniman to purchase a water filtration system.

As part of the agreement, Hamilton agreed to return $1,112 to Smith-Penniman in exchange for return of the water filtration unit.

"Public employees wear only one hat when they are acting in that capacity - their government hat," said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "They cannot leverage the public actions they take to sell products to people they regulate."