The State Ethics Commission is a non-partisan, independent state agency, consisting of five members who are appointed to serve staggered, five-year terms. Reporting to the Commission is the Executive Director who oversees the administration and enforcement of the conflict of interest and financial disclosure laws and is responsible for the day to day management of the Commission staff. The Commission staff are organized into three separate divisions: Legal Division; Public Education and Communications Division; and Enforcement Division.
The mission of the State Ethics Commission is to foster integrity in public service in state, county and local government, to promote the public's trust and confidence in that service, and to prevent conflicts between private interests and public duties. We strive to accomplish this mission by conducting ongoing educational programs, providing clear and timely advice, and fairly and impartially interpreting and enforcing the conflict of interest and financial disclosure laws.
The State Ethics Commission is a non-partisan, independent state agency, consisting of five members who are appointed to serve staggered, five-year terms. Reporting to the Commission is the Executive Director who oversees the administration and enforcement of the conflict of interest and financial disclosure laws and is responsible for the day to day management of the Commission staff. The Commission staff are organized into three separate divisions:
- Legal Division;
- Public Education and Communications Division; and
- Enforcement Division.
Profile and History
The State Ethics Commission is a non-partisan, independent state agency responsible for interpreting and civilly enforcing the conflict of interest law and financial disclosure laws.
The Commission consists of five members who are appointed to serve staggered, five-year terms. Three Commissioners, including the Chairman, are selected by the Governor, one by the Secretary of State and one by the Attorney General. No more than two of the gubernatorial appointments, and no more than three members of the Commission as a whole, may be from the same political party. The Commissioners serve part-time and employ a full-time staff.
Since 1963, the Massachusetts conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, has regulated the conduct of public officials and employees.
The conflict of interest law governs what state, county and municipal employees may do on the job, what they may do after hours or "on the side," and what they may do after they leave public service. It also sets standards of conduct for all public employees. The law requires that public servants give undivided loyalty to the government they work for and act in the public interest rather than for private gain.
Prior to 1978, the conflict of interest law was enforced solely as a criminal matter under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General and the various local District Attorneys.
In 1978, the financial disclosure law was passed. Under the financial disclosure law, political candidates, elected state and county officials, and state employees in designated "major policy-making positions" are required to annually file a statement of their financial interests and private business associations.
The State Ethics Commission was created in 1978 and provided with the power to interpret and enforce the conflict of interest law and the financial disclosure law. Today, the Commission provides free legal advice and education regarding the conflict of interest and financial laws and serves as the primary civil enforcement agency for these laws.
Hon. Barbara A. Dortch-Okara (ret.), Chair
Hon. Barbara A. Dortch-Okara (ret.) was appointed as the Chair of the Commission by Governor Deval Patrick in 2013. Currently a law professor at New England School of Law in Boston, she previously served as the Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Trial Court, as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court, as an Associate Justice of the Boston Municipal Court, as attorney advisor for the Massachusetts office of the United States Department of the Interior, as Associate General Counsel at the Massachusetts Port Authority and as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston. Chairman Dortch-Okara is a graduate of Brandeis University and Boston College Law School.
Hon. David A. Mills (ret.), Vice-Chair
Hon. David A. Mills (ret.) was appointed to the Commission by Governor Deval Patrick in 2014. Judge Mills served as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court from 2001 to 2012. As an appellate justice, Judge Mills was the principal author of more than 100 published decisions. He is a former Middlesex County assistant district attorney and a former assistant attorney general, where he served as chief of the criminal appellate section. Commissioner Mills has more than 30 years of experience in private practice, and currently is Counsel at the law firm of Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster. He is also a member of the Danvers Board of Selectmen. Commissioner Mills is a graduate of Boston College and Boston College Law School.
Thomas J. Sartory
Thomas J. Sartory was appointed to the Commission by Attorney General Maura Healey in October 2015. He is a Director in the Litigation Department at the law firm Goulston & Storrs, PC. He also serves as General Counsel to the law firm. Commissioner Sartory has served for more than 25 years on the Massachusetts Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics. He also served as Special Counsel to the Judicial Conduct Commission, as a Hearing Officer for the Board of Bar Overseers, as a member of the Harvard Medical School Committee on Human Studies and the American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility. He is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and before the United States District Courts for the District of Massachusetts and the Northern District of Florida, the First Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. Commissioner Sartory is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is a graduate of Loyola University and Harvard Law School.
Maria J. Krokidas
Maria J. Krokidas was appointed to the Commission by Governor Charlie Baker in October 2016. She is a founder of the law firm, Krokidas & Bluestein, and presently serves as Of Counsel to the firm’s transactional group. Commissioner Krokidas has over forty years’ experience representing for-profit, non-profit and public entities in real estate, finance and corporate matters. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Mount Holyoke College and a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School.
Hon. R. Marc Kantrowitz (ret.)
Hon. R. Marc Kantrowitz (ret.) was appointed to the Commission by Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin in March 2018. Judge Kantrowitz served as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court from 2001 until his retirement in 2015. Prior to that, he served for six years as an Associate Justice of the Juvenile Court. He is a former Suffolk County assistant district attorney and later managed his own private law practice in Boston for 10 years. Judge Kantrowitz also served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1972 to 1985. He writes a weekly newspaper column on the law and has authored, co-written, and edited numerous books on Massachusetts criminal law, motor vehicle tort law, juvenile law, evidence, and mental health. He has taught at various local institutions and currently teaches trial advocacy at Northeastern University. Judge Kantrowitz is a graduate of Ohio University (BA; MA) and the University of Toledo College of Law.