- David A. Wilson, Executive Director
Media Contact for State Ethics Commission’s Enforcement Division Alleges Berkley Planning Board Member Christopher Hicks Violated Conflict of Interest Law
Gerry Tuoti, Public Information Officer
Boston, MA — The State Ethics Commission’s Enforcement Division issued an Order to Show Cause today alleging Berkley Planning Board Member Christopher Hicks violated the conflict of interest law by failing to fulfill the education and training requirements of the statute.
The conflict of interest law requires that within 30 days of becoming a public employee and every year thereafter, all public employees, including municipal board members, receive a written summary of the law and sign a written acknowledgement that they have received the summary. The law also requires that all public employees complete the Commission’s conflict of interest law online training program within 30 days of becoming a public employee and every two years thereafter.
Hicks was elected to the Berkley Planning Board in May 2018. According to the Order, the Berkley Town Clerk provided Hicks with a summary of the conflict of interest law at his swearing-in as a Planning Board member and notified him that he was required to complete the Commission’s online conflict of interest law training program and acknowledge receiving the summary of the law.
After being advised by the Town Clerk of the training and acknowledgement requirements, Hicks failed to complete the online conflict of interest law training program or acknowledge receipt of the summary of the law, according to the Order. In June, August, and October 2019, the Commission’s Public Education Division repeatedly sought Hicks’ compliance with the statutory requirements to complete the online training and acknowledge receiving the summary of the law. According to the Order, Hicks has to date failed to acknowledge receiving the summary or complete the online training, violating the conflict of interest law.
Pursuant to the Commission’s Enforcement Procedures, the Enforcement Division files an Order to Show Cause after the Commission has found reasonable cause to believe the subject of the Order violated the conflict of interest law. Before filing the Order to Show Cause, the Enforcement Division gives the subject an opportunity to resolve the matter through a disposition agreement. The Commission will schedule a public hearing on the allegations within 90 days.
The Commission is authorized to impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for violations of the conflict of interest law, including violations of the law’s mandatory education and training requirements.
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.