December 21, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session
Contact for December 21, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session
State Ethics Commission
Overview of December 21, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session
Chairman Barbara A. Dortch-Okara called the meeting to order at 9:08 a.m. Also in attendance were Vice-Chairman Regina L. Quinlan, Commissioner David A. Mills, Commissioner Thomas J. Sartory, and Commissioner Maria J. Krokidas.
The Commission held a moment of silence for General Counsel Deirdre Roney.
APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES
On the motion of Vice-Chairman Quinlan seconded by Commissioner Mills, the Commission voted 5-0 to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the November 16, 2017 public and executive sessions.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Executive Director David A. Wilson reported that funeral arrangements for Ms. Roney have not yet been announced. Vice-Chairman Quinlan recommended that Mr. Wilson contact Mass Lawyers Weekly to publish an obituary for Ms. Roney.
Mr. Wilson reported that the second round of interviews for the Public Information Officer position has been completed and he anticipates that the hiring process will be completed soon. Mr. Wilson thanked the staff who participated in the hiring process. Mr. Wilson also thanked Director of Communications for the Treasurer’s Office, Chandra Allard for her valuable assistance.
Mr. Wilson reported that he has met with the Legal Division to discuss the hiring process for the General Counsel position. He noted that he is in the process of updating the position description and anticipates advertising the position in January. Mr. Wilson reported that the General Counsel position is appointed by the Executive Director subject to the approval of the Commission. Chairman Dortch-Okara noted that it may be helpful to schedule a personnel committee meeting to discuss the hiring process.
Mr. Wilson reported that he intends to appoint an Acting General Counsel/Legal Division Chief and he informed the Commission that he would select an attorney from the Legal Division to serve in this role. Chairman Dortch-Okara asked whether the person who serves as Acting General Counsel/Legal Division Chief would be precluded from applying for the permanent position. Mr. Wilson responded that an individual serving as the Acting General Counsel would not be precluded from applying for the position. The Commission noted their support of Mr. Wilson’s decision to appoint an Acting Legal Division Chief/General Counsel.
Appointment as Special Assistant Attorney General
Mr. Wilson reported that he has been appointed as a Special Assistant Attorney General (SAAG) until the Commission’s General Counsel is appointed. Mr. Wilson noted that he has filed a disclosure form pursuant to 930 CMR 6.02(3) to serve as an uncompensated SAAG.
Appointment of New Commissioner
Wilson reported that he has been advised that Secretary Galvin is working on the appointment of a new Commissioner. Vice-Chairman Quinlan noted that it would be difficult for her to continue to serve as a hold-over Commissioner.
Wilson reported that evaluations for the Administrative, Enforcement, and IT staff have been completed. Mr. Wilson is in the process of completing evaluations for the Legal Division staff and for the Division Chiefs.
Mr. Wilson reported that Enforcement Division Chief Monica Brookman has been selected to participate in the state’s CORE Management Program for managers and supervisors. Ms. Brookman has already started the program, and she will complete eight courses by July. The CORE Program is the successor to the discontinued Commonwealth Management Certificate Program.
Affairs Officer Robert Milt reported that the Commission’s FY 2019 budget request has been submitted to the Executive Office of Administration & Finance. This included a request of $1.25 million, a 2.6% budget increase, for FY 2019 in order to maintain the Commission’s ability to function at its current level. The Commission also requested an additional $91,000 to add an Enforcement Division Attorney position. Mr. Milt reported that the request to add an attorney position was well received. Mr. Milt thanked the Enforcement Division Staff for providing him with support in connection with making this request.
Mr. Wilson reported that he, Chairman Dortch-Okara, Ms. Brookman, and Investigations Director Paul Murray attended the annual Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) conference in Toronto from December 3 - 6. Mr. Wilson noted that he is exploring ways to increase the Commission’s involvement in COGEL.
The next Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 9:00 a.m.
PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION REPORT
Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti presented his monthly Division Report.
Mr. Giannotti reported that he traveled to many communities to provide seminars during the last month.
Mr. Giannotti thanked Legal Division Counsel Norah Mallam, Senior Assistant General Counsel Pauline Nguyen and Mr. Murray for their work on the website migration project. Mr. Giannotti reported that the Enforcement and Legal Opinions have been converted and are available on the new website. Mr. Giannotti is continuing to work on the website and he anticipates that the remaining website work will be done by February.
Giannotti reported that a new compliance cycle for the conflict of interest law education components has started. This year, all state, county and municipal employees are required to receive a copy of the Summary of the Conflict of Interest Law. Mr. Giannotti stated that he is in the process of notifying all municipalities about this requirement, and he will notify state agencies in early January.
LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS
Legal Division Chief/SFI Lauren Duca reported on the activities of the Legal Division.
Legal Division Metrics for November 2017
Ms. Duca presented the following Legal Division metrics for November 2017.
- Written advice. The Legal Division answered by letter or email 52 written requests for advisory opinions under G.L. c. 268A and c. 268B.
For comparison: November 2016 (same month last year): 30
October 2017 (previous month): 61
- Oral advice. The Legal Division attorneys provided advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis in response to 369 requests for advice from state, county and municipal officials.
For comparison: November 2016 (same month last year): 321
October 2017 (previous month): 418
- Review of municipal letters. Division staff reviewed 2 letters issued by city solicitors/town counsel pursuant to G.L. c. 268A, § 22 and 930 CMR 1.03.
For comparison: November 2016 (same month last year): 2
October 2017 (previous month): 1
- Backlog. As of today, the Division has 5 pending requests for written advice that are more than 30 days old. There are a total of 35 pending requests for written advice.
Statements of Financial Interests (SFI)
Duca reported that the online SFI system is now open for state agency Liaisons to create their CY 2017 Designation Lists. Ms. Duca noted that when the system initially opened, Liaisons were unable to add new Filers. However, the vendor fixed this issue quickly and at no charge to the Commission. Liaisons are required to update their Designation Lists by January 16, 2018. Ms. Duca reported that the SFI system will open to Filers in early February.
McGovern v. State Ethics Commission: Hampden Superior Court, Civil Action No. 1679CV00082: Ms. Duca reported that Edward McGovern seeks judicial review pursuant to G.L. c. 30A of the Commission’s finding of a violation against him. The argument for McGovern’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and the Commission’s cross-motion has been scheduled for argument January 24, 2018.
Hansen v. State Ethics Commission: Hansen filed an Appeal to the Commission’s Decision in the Norfolk Superior Court.
ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS
Investigations Unit Metrics Report
Investigations Director Paul Murray presented the Enforcement Division Metrics for November 2017. Mr. Murray noted that the Enforcement Division is prioritizing complaints that are older than one year.
At 9:55 a.m., on the motion of Chairman Dortch-Okara, seconded by Commissioner Sartory the Commission voted 5-0 to enter into executive session to discuss matters subject to the G.L. c. 30A, § 21, subparagraph (a)(7) and § 18, and G.L. c. 268B, §§ 3 and 4. These matters included investigatory matters, cases deferred, a preliminary inquiry recommendation, a summons authorization request, preliminary inquiry reports and advisory opinions. Chairman Dortch-Okara noted that the Commission would not be discussing personnel matters, which was listed on the agenda.
Chairman Dortch-Okara stated that the Commission would not reconvene in public session following the executive session.
VOTE: Chairman Dortch-Okara yes
Vice-Chairman Quinlan yes
Commissioner Mills yes
Commissioner Sartory yes
Commissioner Krokidas yes
LIST OF DOCUMENTS USED AT THIS MEETING
- Agenda for the Commission Meeting of December 21, 2017.
- Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the November 16, 2017 Public and Executive Sessions.
- Memorandum dated November 14, 2017 from Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division report for the meeting.
- Memorandum dated December 15, 2017 from Pauline Nguyen to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for the December 21, 2017 meeting.
- Calendar of Hearing Dates in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
- Report of Enforcement Division Metrics.
Norah K. Mallam