For Immediate Release - October 29, 2008

Former Southampton Board of Health Member Joseph Slattery Fined $4,000 for Violating the Conflict of Interest Law

The Ethics Commission issued a Disposition Agreement in which former Southampton Board of Health member Joseph Slattery admitted to violating the conflict of interest law by holding multiple municipal positions and by accepting appointment by his own Board to a position supervised by that Board. Slattery paid a $4,000 fine.

According to the Disposition Agreement, Slattery has been the Town of Southampton's paid, full-time Water Department Superintendent since 1996. From 1999 until January, 2008, Slattery also served as an unpaid elected member of the town's Board of Health ("BOH"). In January, 2005, the BOH appointed Slattery to the position of paid BOH health agent, and he served in that position until January 2008. The BOH health agent position was supervised by the BOH.

Section 20 of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from having a financial interest in a contract made by his municipal employer. Slattery's acceptance of an appointment as paid health agent, when he was already the Southampton Water Department Superintendent and a Board of Health member, gave him a financial interest in a town contract. While certain exemptions are available under § 20 to allow municipal employees to have financial interests in town contracts in some circumstances, there is no exemption that would permit Slattery to hold both the full-time Southampton Water Department Superintendent position and the part-time, paid Southampton Board of Health health agent position. Therefore, by holding both positions, Slattery violated § 20.

Section 21A of the conflict of interest law prohibits a member of the Board of Health from being eligible for appointment or election by the members of the board to any office or position under the supervision of the board, unless the appointment has first been approved at an annual town meeting. At no time did the Southampton town meeting approve of Slattery's appointment as health agent. Therefore, by accepting the appointment as health agent while serving on the Board of Health, Slattery also violated § 21A.

"The conflict of interest law prohibits city and town employees from having the inside track on additional paid jobs with the same city or town, unless certain conditions have been satisfied" said Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "In addition, boards on which town employees serve may not appoint their own members to paid positions supervised by the board, unless town meeting has approved the appointments. In this case, the necessary conditions were not satisfied and the required approval was not obtained."

Disposition Agreement