For Immediate Release - November 24, 2009

Ethics Commission Finds In Favor of Rowley Board of Water Commissioners Chair Scott Martin

Decides that the Enforcement Division failed to prove the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, in a Decision and Order ("Decision"), determined that Rowley Board of Water Commissioners Chair Scott Martin ("Martin") did not violate the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by arranging to have Water Department employees drive him from his place of private employment to the Water Department offices on a regular basis between March 2005 and January 2007. This matter was initiated on January 12, 2009, by the Commission's Enforcement Division filing of an Order to Show Cause ("OTSC"). The OTSC alleged that Martin violated sections 23(b)(2) and 23(b)(3) of the conflict of interest law when, after Martin's driver's license had been suspended, he arranged to have Water Department employees drive him from his place of employment to the Water Department offices to sign bills and payroll. An adjudicatory hearing on the matter was held on August 11, 2009, and this case is now concluded by the issuance of the Decision.

Section 23(b)(2) of G. L. c. 268A prohibits a municipal employee from, knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals. The Decision determined that the free transportation of Martin from his place of employment to the Water Department to sign Water Department bills and payroll was not an unwarranted use of public resources. As to several side trips taken to accommodate Martin's need to conduct personal errands, the Commission determined that, while the side trips were unwarranted privileges, they were not of substantial value.

Section 23(b)(3) prohibits a public employee 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 any person can improperly influence or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties, or that he is likely to act as a result of kinship, rank, position or undue influence of any party or person. The Commission found that, in connection with Water Department employees transporting Martin to the Water Department offices, Martin had not taken any actions regarding those employees apart from signing payroll, and therefore, "… Petitioner has not established by a preponderance of the evidence that a reasonable person, with knowledge of the relevant circumstances …, would be caused to conclude that [Water Department employees] could unduly influence Martin or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his duties as a Water Commissioner or that he was likely to act or fail to act as a Water Commissioner as a result of [Water Department employees'] undue influence upon him."

Decision and Order