For Immediate Release - June 15, 2006

Mendon Parks Commissioner Joseph Flaherty Pays $1,000 Fine

For Using his Position to Get his Son a Junior Camp Counselor Position

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission fined Mendon Parks Commissioner Joseph Flaherty $1,000 for violating the state's conflict of interest law, M.G.L. c. 268A, by using his position to enable his son to attend the Parks Department's summer youth camp as a junior counselor. Flaherty served on the Parks Commission from 2000 to 2004, then was re-elected in May 2005 and is currently serving his term.

According to the Disposition Agreement, the Mendon Parks Department provides a summer camp for residents 12 years old and younger at a cost of $150 per week. Junior counselors, age 13 to 15, attend camp unpaid, receive free lunch every day and gain valuable experience that could lead to a paid senior counsel position in the future. In early 2005, the Mendon Parks Commission limited the number of junior counselors to 10. Flaherty was not a member of the Commission when this decision was made.

Flaherty's 15-year-old son, who had served as a junior counselor in 2003 and 2004, was one of 25 applicants for the 10 junior counselor openings. He was not selected. Once Flaherty was re-elected to the Parks Commission, he expressed his concerns about the number of junior counselors and the hiring process. The Parks Commission, at a meeting at which Flaherty did not attend, voted to keep the number of junior counselors at 10. On Monday, July 11, 2005, Flaherty brought his son to the camp and told the newly appointed camp director that his son was there to be a junior counselor that week and for two additional weeks. Flaherty's son attended the camp as a junior counselor for at least 10 days during these three weeks.

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 bringing his son to camp and telling the director his son was there as a junior counselor, Flaherty used his Commissioner position to get his son an unwarranted privilege, attendance at camp as a junior counselor.

"Being an elected member of a board or commission is a privilege and an opportunity to serve the public interest," said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "It does not entitle a public official to gain special benefits such as his child' attendance at camp in violation of his own commission's vote."