Former Gardner Golf Commission Member Mary Capman Pays $500 Civil Penalty for Conflict of Interest Law Violation
According to the Agreement, in the Fall of 2008, GGC members began discussing the possibility of installing a computer system at the Gardner Municipal Golf Course. In October 2008, Capman informed the GGC that her step-son owned J.D. Associates ("JDA"), a company that sold point-of-sale software and hardware, and she offered to contact JDA to arrange to have JDA make an informational presentation at a GGC meeting. Capman relayed to the GGC at its November 2008 meeting a cost estimate provided to her by her step-son., and Capman then introduced the step-son's business partner to the GGC at the December 2008 meeting so that the partner could make a presentation to the GCC. In March 2009, the GGC purchased point-of-sale software, hardware and services from JDA totaling $10,210. Pursuant to the contract between the GGC and JDA, in lieu of a cash payment, the GGC provided JDA with two family golf memberships and two individual golf memberships for a three year period. The value of the four memberships was approximately $12,000. The point-of-sale equipment was installed in the golf course pro shop in April 2009. In June 2010, the Gardner City Solicitor voided the contract between the GGC and JDA. At that time, the equipment was removed from the pro shop and returned to JDA, and the golf course memberships were rescinded.
Section 19 of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from participating in a particular matter in which, to her knowledge, her immediate family has a financial interest. Section 19(b)(1) provides that it is not a violation of section 19 if the municipal employee first advises the official responsible for appointment to her position of the nature and circumstances of the particular matter and makes full disclosure of such financial interest, and receives in advance a written determination made by that official that the interest is not so substantial as to be deemed likely to affect the integrity of the services which the municipality may expect from the employee. According to the Agreement, "[b]y introducing and recommending JDA to the GGC, getting an estimated cost amount from JDA and communicating that amount to the GGC, Capman participated in her capacity as a GGC member in the decision to have JDA make a presentation to the GGC, and in the decision to award the [c]ontract to JDA." Under the conflict of interest law, a step-son is an immediate family member. Capman did not disclose her step-son's financial interest in the contract to her appointing authority, the City Council, and, therefore, she violated section 19.