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Press Release Cheshire Town Clerk Christine Emerson pays $5,000 Civil Penalty for Violating Conflict of Interest Law

Emerson repeatedly hired her daughter and granddaughter to do work for the town
For immediate release:
11/17/2022
  • David A. Wilson, Executive Director

Media Contact for Cheshire Town Clerk Christine Emerson pays $5,000 Civil Penalty for Violating Conflict of Interest Law

Gerry Tuoti, Public Information Officer

Boston, MACheshire Town Clerk Christine Emerson has paid a $5,000 civil penalty for violating the conflict of interest law by hiring her daughter and granddaughter to perform work for the town on multiple occasions. Emerson signed a Disposition Agreement in which she admitted to the violations and waived her right to a hearing.

For nine years between 2008 and 2020, Emerson, as town clerk, hired her daughter to compile mailings for the town census. For seven elections between 2014 and 2020, Emerson hired her granddaughter to help set up a polling location on the day of the election and hired her for 70 additional hours in 2020 to assist with early voting and extra precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerson also hired her granddaughter in 2021 to compile mailings for the town census.

After Emerson was warned not to hire family members, she hired a voter registrar in 2022 to assist with compiling town census mailings. She set the voter registrar’s hourly rate of pay at $14.25, which was the state minimum wage. The voter registrar was paid a total of $92.63 for the census work.

When Emerson hired her daughter and granddaughter to compile mailings, however, she determined they would be paid per envelope. Each year, they were paid between $693 and $911.13 for census work. Had they been paid the same hourly wage as the voter registrar, they each would have instead been paid approximately $330.

By hiring her daughter, setting her rate of pay, and completing her pay vouchers, Emerson violated the conflict of interest law’s prohibition against municipal employees participating officially in matters in which members of their immediate family have a financial interest. In addition, the law prohibits public employees from acting in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to believe they would unduly favor another person when performing an official act. Emerson violated this prohibition when she hired her granddaughter, set her pay, and completed her pay vouchers. Finally, the conflict of interest also law prohibits public employees from using their official positions to obtain valuable unwarranted benefits not available to others in similar situations. Emerson violated this prohibition by setting her daughter’s and granddaughter’s census pay structure as a per envelope rate that was not properly available to other town employees.

The Commission encourages public employees to contact the Commission’s Legal Division at 617-371-9500 for free advice if they have any questions regarding how the conflict of interest law may apply to them.

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Media Contact for Cheshire Town Clerk Christine Emerson pays $5,000 Civil Penalty for Violating Conflict of Interest Law

State Ethics Commission 

The State Ethics Commission is an independent state agency that administers and enforces the provisions of the conflict of interest law and financial disclosure law.

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