Former West Barnstable Fire Department Chief John Jenkins Fined $2,000
For Creating Appearance of Impropriety
According to a Disposition Agreement, in 2004 and 2005, Jenkins participated in drawing up the preliminary bid documents to refurbish a 1985 engine-tanker and recommended that the prudential committee accept the low bid. The local representative for Pierce Manufacturing, Minuteman Fire and Rescue Apparatus (Minuteman) of Walpole, Massachusetts, was awarded the contract. Jenkins also acted as fire department liaison with Minuteman throughout the bid and subsequent refurbishment process. Jenkins, who retired from the fire department in March 2005, two months before the refurbished truck was returned to service, did not earn a commission from Minuteman Fire and Rescue Apparatus or Pierce Manufacturing.
Section 23(b)(3) of the conflict law prohibits a public official from knowingly or with reason to know acting in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, having knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to conclude that anyone can improperly influence or unduly enjoy the public employee's favor in the performance of his official duties. By participating as fire chief in the bid and refurbishment process while he was also a sales representative for Pierce Manufacturing, Jenkins violated §23(b)(3). Jenkins could have avoided violating §23(b)(3) by making an advance written disclosure of his relationship with Pierce Manufacturing to his appointing authority, the prudential committee. Jenkins did not make such a disclosure.
"The conflict law is concerned with the appearance of impropriety as much as it is with actual conflicts of interest," said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "While the law doesn't prohibit public officials from having private employment, it does require them to accurately disclose the relevant facts when they are participating in matters involving their employer or abstain from such involvement."