- David A. Wilson, Executive Director
Media Contact for State Ethics Commission Issues Public Education Letter to Former Falmouth Historical Commission Member Nicole Goldman
Gerry Tuoti, Public Information Officer
Boston, MA — The State Ethics Commission has issued a Public Education Letter to former Falmouth Historical Commission and Community Preservation Commission member Nicole Goldman to resolve allegations that she violated the conflict of interest law by acting on behalf of a private nonprofit organization in connection with its requests for town funding and support to preserve a 1950s geodesic dome. After the Commission found reasonable cause to believe she violated the conflict of interest law, Goldman agreed to the issuance of the Public Education Letter and waived her right to an adjudicatory hearing.
According to the Public Education letter, when the Falmouth Select Board appointed Goldman to the Historical Commission in 2016, she was a member of a private working group dedicated to preserving a geodesic dome that was built by students of famed architect R. Buckminster Fuller in 1953. The working group eventually became the Dome at Woods Hole, Inc., a private nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the dome and creating an arts center.
The letter states that in December 2017, while a member of the Historical Commission, Goldman requested on behalf of the private working group that the Historical Commission make a $350 donation to an educational travelling exhibit about the dome’s history. The Historical Commission did not make the donation. After Goldman was appointed as the Historical Commission’s representative to the Falmouth Community Preservation Commission (CPC) in 2018, she arranged a meeting with the CPC’s administrator on behalf of the Dome at Woods Hole to discuss the organization’s proposed application for $125,000 in CPC funding to study the potential re-use of the dome. As president of the Dome at Woods Hole, Goldman then sent an email to the Historical Commission chairman seeking the Historical Commission’s support of the nonprofit corporation’s CPC funding application and the Historical Commission’s nomination of the dome for a Preservation Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources designation. Goldman wrote letters to the Historical Commission regarding the requests and made a presentation to the Historical Commission on behalf of the Dome at Woods Hole.
According to the letter, the Historical Commission supported the dome’s Most Endangered Historic Resources designation but not the Dome at Woods Hole’s CPC funding application, which the CPC denied. Goldman resigned from the Historical Commission and CPC in 2019.
The conflict of interest law prohibits municipal employees from representing or acting as agent for anyone other than the municipality in connection with matters in which the city or town is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. The State Ethics Commission found reasonable cause to believe that Goldman violated this provision each time she acted on behalf of the working group or the Dome at Woods Hole regarding the requested donation from the Historical Commission, the Dome at Woods Hole’s application for CPC funding, and the Historical Commission’s decisions on whether to support the CPC funding application and nominate the dome for the endangered historic resources designation.
According to the Public Education Letter, the State Ethics Commission is not aware of evidence that Goldman personally financially benefited from the alleged violations or that the Town of Falmouth suffered any economic harm as a result. The Commission chose to resolve the allegations against Goldman through the issuance of the letter rather than through an adjudicatory proceeding because it determined the public interest would be better served by publicly discussing the application of the conflict of interest law to Goldman’s alleged actions. The Commission expects that the letter will provide public employees in similar circumstances with a clearer understanding of how to comply with the law.
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.