Kingston Community Preservation Committee Member Pine duBois Pays $2,500 Civil Penalty for Conflict of Interest Law Violations
Represented the Jones River Landing Environmental Heritage Center’s application for public funds before the Community Preservation Committee
The Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement (“Agreement”) in which Town of Kingston Community Preservation Committee (“CPC”) member Pine duBois (“duBois”) admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by advocating, in her capacity as the unpaid president of the non-profit Jones River Landing Environmental Heritage Center (the “Jones River Landing”), for $75,000 in CPC funds to restore two boat sheds located on Jones River Landing property. DuBois also admitted to violating the conflict law by failing to disclose her relationship with Jones River Landing to her appointing authority. Pursuant to the Agreement, duBois paid a $2,500 civil penalty.
According to the Agreement, in October, 2008, Jones River Landing applied to the CPC for $75,000 to restore two boat sheds in the Holmes/Watson Boatyard (“Holmes/Watson Project”) a property owned by Jones River Landing. Thereafter, duBois was involved in the following activities, among others:
- As a CPC member, duBois numerically ranked nine projects seeking CPC funding, giving the Holmes/Watson Project her second-highest score;
- As a CPC member, duBois voted to send Jones River Landing’s $75,000 CPC funding request to Town Meeting; and
- At a CPC meeting, duBois, acting on behalf of Jones River Landing, requested the CPC sign off on a payment schedule of $40,000 for partial payment to Jones River Landing for matters related to the Holmes/Watson Project; and then, as a CPC member, duBois voted to approve the payment schedule.
Section 17(c) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from, otherwise than in the proper discharge of her official duties, acting as agent for anyone other than the municipality in connection with a particular matter in which the municipality is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. The Agreement states that duBois violated section 17(c) by acting as agent for Jones River Landing before the CPC, as described above.
Section 23(b)(3) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal 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 her favor in the performance of her official duties, or that she is likely to act or fail to act as a result of kinship, rank, position or undue influence of any party or person. The section further provides that it shall be unreasonable to so conclude if such officer or employee has disclosed in writing to her appointing authority the facts which would otherwise lead to such a conclusion. Such disclosure must be made before taking any official action. The Agreement states that duBois violated section 23(b)(3) by, in her role as a CPC member, ranking the Holmes/Watson Project for CPC funds, voting to allocate $75,000 to the project, and voting to approve the $40,000 payment schedule. Although other CPC members knew about duBois’ position with Jones River Landing, she did not make a written disclosure to her appointing authority, the Town Moderator, to dispel the appearance of a conflict of interest until February 19, 2010, well after she had advocated for her organization before the CPC.
“The conflict of interest law requires a municipal employee’s undivided loyalty to the municipality she serves,” stated Executive Director Karen L. Nober. “That loyalty is potentially compromised whenever a municipal employee represents a private entity before the municipality.”
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