Note: This unofficial version of chapter 268B as amended by chapter 194 of the Acts of 2011 was prepared by staff of the State Ethics Commission and is posted here for the convenience of the public. It is not an official statement of the law.
268B: Section 1 Definitions.
As used in this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise have the following meanings:
"Amount", a category of value, rather than an exact dollar figure, as follows: greater than $1,000 but not more than $5,000; greater than $5,000 but not more than $10,000; greater than $10,000 but not more than $20,000; greater than $20,000 but not more than $40,000; greater than $40,000 but not more than $60,000; greater than $60,000 but not more than $100,000; greater than $100,000.
"Business", any corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, franchise, association, organization, holding company, joint stock company, receivership, business or real estate trust or any other legal entity organized for profit or charitable purposes.
"Business with which he is associated", any business in which the reporting person or a member of his immediate family is a general partner, proprietor, officer or other employee, including one who is self-employed or serves as a director, trustee or in any similar managerial capacity and any business more than 1 per cent of any class of the outstanding equity of which is beneficially owned in the aggregate by the reporting person and members of his immediate family.
"Candidate for public office", any individual who seeks nomination or election to public office; provided, however, that , an individual shall be deemed to be seeking nomination or election to public office if he has: (1) received a political contribution or made an expenditure, or has given his consent for any other person or committee to receive a political contribution or make an expenditure, for the purpose of influencing his nomination or election to such office, whether or not the specific public office for which he will seek nomination or election is known at the time the political contribution is received or the expenditure is made; or (2) taken the action necessary under the laws of the commonwealth to qualify himself for nomination or election to such office.
"Commission", the state ethics commission established by section 2.
"Equity", any stock or similar ownership interest in a business.
" Executive agent", an executive agent as defined in section 39 of chapter 3.
"Gift", a payment, entertainment, subscription, advance, services or anything of value, unless consideration of equal or greater value is received; provided, however, that "gift" shall not include a political contribution reported as required by law, a commercially reasonable loan made in the ordinary course of business, anything of value received by inheritance or a gift received from a member of the reporting person's immediate family or from a relative within the third degree of consanguinity of the reporting person or of the reporting person's spouse or from the spouse of any such relative;
"Governmental body", a state or county agency, authority, board, bureau, commission, council, department, division or other entity, including the general court and the courts of the commonwealth.
"Immediate family", a spouse and any dependent children residing in the reporting person's household.
"Income", income from whatever source derived, whether in the form of a fee, salary, allowance, forbearance, forgiveness, interest, dividend, royalty, rent, capital gain or any other form of recompense or any combination thereof; provided, however, that interest from savings accounts or from government obligations other than those of the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof or any public agency or authority created by the general court, alimony and support payments, proceeds from a life insurance policy, retirement or disability benefits and social security payments shall not be considered income for the purposes of this chapter.
"Legislative agent", a legislative agent as defined in section 39 of chapter 3.
"Major policymaking position", the executive or administrative head of a governmental body, all members of the judiciary, any person whose salary equals or exceeds that of a state employee classified in step 1 of job group XXV of the general salary schedule contained in section 46 of chapter 30 and who reports directly to said executive or administrative head, the head of each division, bureau or other major administrative unit within such governmental body and persons exercising similar authority.
"Person", a business, individual, corporation, union, association, firm, partnership, committee or other organization or group of persons.
"Political contribution", a contribution of money or anything of value to an individual, candidate, political committee or person acting on behalf of an individual, candidate or political committee, for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of the individual or candidate or for the purpose of promoting or opposing a charter change, referendum question, constitutional amendment or other question submitted to the voters and shall include any: (l) gift, subscription, loan, advance, deposit of money, or thing of value, except a loan of money to a candidate by a national or state bank made in accordance with the applicable banking laws and regulations and in the ordinary course of business; (2) transfer of money or anything of value between political committees; (3) payment, by any person other than a candidate or political committee, or compensation for the personal services of another person which are rendered to such candidate or committee; (4) purchase from an individual, candidate or political committee, or person acting on behalf of an individual, candidate or political committee, whether through the device of tickets, advertisements, or otherwise, for fund-raising activities, including testimonials, held on behalf of said individual, candidate or political committee, to the extent that the purchase price exceeds the actual cost of the goods sold or services rendered; (5) discount or rebate not available to other candidates for the same office and to the general public; and (6) forgiveness of indebtedness or payment of indebtedness by another person; provided, however, that political contribution shall not include the rendering of services by speakers, editors, writers, poll watchers, poll checkers or others, or the payment by those rendering such services of such personal expenses as may be incidental thereto, or the exercise of ordinary hospitality.
"Public employee", a person who holds a major policymaking position in a governmental body; provided, however, that a person who receives no compensation other than reimbursements for expenses, or any person serving on a governmental body that has no authority to expend public funds other than to approve reimbursements for expenses shall not be considered a public employee for the purposes of this chapter; provided, further, that the members of the board of bar examiners shall not be considered public employees for the purposes of this chapter.
"Public office", a position for which one is nominated at a state primary or chosen at a state election, excluding the positions of senator and representative in congress and the office of regional district school committee member elected district-wide.
"Public official", a person who holds a public office.
"Reporting person", a person required to file a statement of financial interest pursuant to section 5.
268B: Section 2 State Ethics Commission
(a) There is established a state ethics commission composed of five members. At no time shall more than three members be from the same political party.
(b) Three members of the commission shall be appointed by the governor, one of whom shall be designated as chairman, and one member shall be appointed by the state secretary and one member shall be appointed by the attorney general. At no time shall more than two of the members to be appointed by the governor be from the same political party.
(c) Members of the commission shall serve for terms of five years.
(d) No person shall be appointed to more than one full five year term on the commission.
(e) Not less than thirty days prior to making any appointment to the commission, the appointing official shall give public notice that a vacancy on the commission exists.
(f) No member or employee of the commission shall:
(l) hold or be a candidate for any other public office while a member or employee or for one year thereafter;
(2) hold office in any political party or political committee;
(3) participate in or contribute to the political campaign of any candidate for public office.
(g) Members of the commission may be removed by a majority vote of the governor, state secretary, and attorney general, for substantial neglect of duty, inability to discharge the powers and duties of office, violation of subsection (f) of this section, gross misconduct, or conviction of a felony.
(h) Any vacancy occurring on the commission shall be filled within ninety days by the original appointing authority. A person appointed to fill a vacancy occurring other than by expiration of a term of office shall be appointed for the unexpired term of the member he succeeds, and shall be eligible for appointment to one full five year term.
(i) The commission shall elect a vice chairman. The vice chairman shall act as chairman in the absence of the chairman or in the event of a vacancy in that position.
(j) Three members of the commission shall constitute a quorum and three affirmative votes shall be required for any action or recommendation of the commission; the chairman or any three members of the commission may call a meeting; advance notice of all meetings shall be given to each member of the commission and to any other person who requests such notice;
(k) Members of the commission shall be compensated for work performed for the commission at such rate as the secretary of administration and finance shall determine, and shall be reimbursed for their expenses.
(l) The commission shall annually report to the general court and the governor concerning the action it has taken; the names and salaries and duties of all individuals in its employ and the money it has disbursed; and shall make such further reports on matters within its jurisdiction as may appear necessary;
(m) The commission shall employ an executive director, a general counsel, and, subject to appropriation, such other staff, including but not limited to clerks, accountants, and investigators, as are necessary to carry out its duties pursuant to this chapter and chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A. The staff shall serve at the pleasure of the commission and shall not be subject to the provisions of chapter thirty-one or section nine A of chapter thirty. The executive director shall be responsible for the administrative operation of the commission and shall perform such other tasks as the commission shall determine. The general counsel shall be the chief legal officer of the commission. The commission may employ, subject to appropriation, the services of experts and consultants necessary to carry out its duties. The colonel of state police, the state auditor, the comptroller, the attorney general, and the director of the office of campaign and political finance may make available to the commission personnel and other assistance as the commission may request.
268B: Section 3 Powers and duties of the commission
The commission shall:
(a) prescribe and publish, pursuant to chapter 30A, rules and regulations:
(1) to carry out this chapter, including rules governing the conduct of proceedings hereunder; and
(2) to carry out chapter 268A; provided, however, that the rules and regulations shall be limited to providing exemptions from the provisions of sections 3 to 7, inclusive, sections 11 to 14, inclusive, sections 17 to 20, inclusive, and section 23 of said chapter 268A;
(b) prepare and publish, after giving the public an opportunity to comment, forms for the statements and reports required to be filed by this chapter and make such forms available to any and all persons required to file statements and reports pursuant to the provisions of this chapter;
(c) prepare and publish, pursuant to the provisions of chapter thirty A, methods of accounting and reporting to be used by persons required to file statements and reports by this chapter;
(d) make statements and reports filed with the commission available for public inspection and copying during regular office hours upon the written request of any individual who provides identification acceptable to the commission, including his affiliation, if any, at a charge not to exceed the actual administrative and material costs required in reproducing said statements and reports; provided, however, that the commission shall be authorized, in its discretion, to exempt from public disclosure those portions of a statement of financial interest filed pursuant to section 5 which contain the home address of the filer; and provided, further, that the commission shall forward a copy of said request to the person whose statement has been examined;
(e) compile and maintain an index of all reports and statements filed with the commission to facilitate public access to such reports and statements;
(f) inspect all statements of financial interests filed with the commission in order to ascertain whether any reporting person has failed to file such a statement or has filed a deficient statement. If, upon inspection, it is ascertained that a reporting person has failed to file a statement of financial interests, or if it is ascertained that any such statement filed with the commission fails to conform with the requirements of section five of this chapter, then the commission shall, in writing, notify the delinquent; such notice shall state in detail the deficiency and the penalties for failure to file a statement of financial interests;
(g) upon written request from a person who is or may be subject to the provisions of this chapter or chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A, render advisory opinions on the requirements of said chapters. An opinion rendered by the commission, until and unless amended or revoked, shall be a defense in a criminal action brought under chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A and shall be binding on the commission in any subsequent proceedings concerning the person who requested the opinion and who acted in good faith, unless material facts were omitted or misstated by the person in the request for an opinion. Such requests shall be confidential; provided, however, that the commission may publish such opinions, but the name of the requesting person and any other identifying information shall not be included in such publication unless the requesting person consents to such inclusion;
(h) preserve all statements and reports filed with the commission for a period of six years from the date of receipt;
(i) act as the primary civil enforcement agency for violations of all sections of chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A and of this chapter.
(j) on or before February first of each year the executive director of the commission shall request a list of all major policymaking positions for the governmental bodies below from the persons listed below:
(l) the house of representatives, the speaker of the house;
(2) the senate, the president of the senate;
(3) the state secretary's office, the state secretary;
(4) the attorney general's office, the attorney general;
(5) the state auditor's office, the state auditor;
(6) the treasurer and receiver general's office, the state treasurer;
(7) for each court of the commonwealth, the chief judge of such court;
(8) for each executive office in the commonwealth and all governmental bodies within such executive office, the secretary for such executive office;
(9) the governor's office, the governor;
(10) the lieutenant governor's office, the lieutenant governor;
(11) for each county, the chairman of the county commissioners;
(12) for each authority or other governmental body not covered by clauses one through eleven above, the executive or administrative head of such authority or governmental body; and such persons shall furnish such lists within sixty days. The executive director may add any position that he determines to be a major policymaking position in such governmental body to such list. Any person aggrieved by such action of the executive director may appeal such action to the commission.
268B: Section 4 Investigations by the commission
(a) Upon receipt of a sworn complaint signed under the penalties of perjury, or upon receipt of evidence which is deemed sufficient by the commission, the commission shall initiate a preliminary inquiry into any alleged violation of chapter 268A or 268B. At the commencement of a preliminary inquiry into any such alleged violation, the general counsel shall notify the attorney general in order to avoid overlapping civil and criminal investigations. All commission proceedings and records relating to a preliminary inquiry or initial staff review used to determine whether to initiate an inquiry shall be confidential, except that the general counsel may turn over to the attorney general, the United States Attorney or a district attorney of competent jurisdiction evidence which may be used in a criminal proceeding. The general counsel shall notify any person who is the subject of the preliminary inquiry of the existence of such inquiry and the general nature of the alleged violation within 30 days of the commencement of the inquiry.
(b) If a preliminary inquiry fails to indicate reasonable cause for belief that this chapter or said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A has been violated, the commission shall immediately terminate the inquiry and so notify, in writing, the complainant, if any, and the person who had been the subject of the inquiry. All commission records and proceedings from any such preliminary inquiry, or from any initial staff review to determine whether to initiate an inquiry, shall be confidential.
(c) If a preliminary inquiry indicates reasonable cause for belief that this chapter or said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A has been violated, the commission may, upon a majority vote, initiate an adjudicatory proceeding to determine whether there has been such a violation. The commission shall initiate such an adjudicatory proceeding within 5 years from the date the commission learns of the alleged violation, but not more than 6 years from the date of the last conduct relating to the alleged violation.
(d) The commission may require by summons the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, papers and other records relating to any matter being investigated by it pursuant to this chapter or said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A. Such summons may be issued by the commission only upon a majority vote of the commission and shall be served in the same manner as summonses for witnesses in civil cases, and all provisions of law relative to summonses issued in such cases, including the compensation of witnesses, shall apply to summonses issued by the commission. Such summonses shall have the same force, and be obeyed in the same manner, and under the same penalties in case of default, as if issued by order of a justice of the superior court and may be quashed only upon motion of the summonsed party and by order of a justice of the superior court.
(e) Any member of the commission may administer oaths and any member of the commission may hear testimony or receive other evidence in any proceeding before the commission.
(f) All testimony in a commission adjudicatory proceeding shall be under oath. All parties shall have the right to call and examine witnesses, to introduce exhibits, to cross-examine witnesses who testify, to submit evidence, and to be represented by counsel. Before testifying, all witnesses shall be given a copy of the regulations governing commission proceedings. All witnesses shall be entitled to be represented by counsel.
(g) Any person whose name is mentioned during an adjudicatory proceeding of the commission and who may be adversely affected thereby may appear personally before the commission on his own behalf, with or without an attorney, to give a statement in opposition to such adverse mention or file a written statement of such opposition for incorporation into the record of the proceeding.
(h) All adjudicatory proceedings of the commission carried out pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be public, unless the members vote to go into executive session.
(i) Within thirty days after the end of an adjudicatory proceeding pursuant to the provisions of this section, the commission shall meet in executive session for the purpose of reviewing the evidence before it. Within thirty days after completion of deliberations, the commission shall publish a written report of its findings and conclusions.
(j) The commission, upon a finding pursuant to an adjudicatory proceeding that there has been a violation of said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A or a violation of this chapter, may issue an order requiring the violator to:
(1) cease and desist such violation of said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A or this chapter;
(2) file any report, statement or other information as required by said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A or this chapter; or
(3) pay a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation of this chapter or chapter 268A, with the exception of a violation of section 2 of chapter 268A, which shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $25,000.
The commission may file a civil action in superior court to enforce such order and any order issued by the commission in accordance with chapter 268A.
(k) Any final action by the commission made pursuant to chapter 268A or 268B this chapter shall be subject to review in superior court upon petition of any party in interest filed within thirty days after the action for which review is sought. The court shall enter a judgment enforcing, modifying or setting aside the order of the commission or it may remand the proceedings to the commission for such further action as the court may direct. If the court modifies or sets aside the commission order or remands the proceedings to the commission, the court shall determine whether such modification, set aside or remand is substantial. If the court does find such modification, set aside or remand to be substantial, the employee shall be entitled to be reimbursed from the treasury of the commonwealth for reasonable attorneys' fees and all court costs incurred by him in the defense of the charges contained in said proceedings. The amount of such reimbursement shall be awarded by the court, but shall not exceed $30,000 per person, per case. Reimbursement of such costs shall be applicable to state, county or municipal employees whose conduct is so regulated by the provisions of chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A and this chapter.
(l) The superior court shall have concurrent jurisdiction to issue orders under paragraph (j) in a civil action brought by the attorney general. In any such action, an advisory opinion of the commission under clause (g) of section 3 shall be binding to the same extent as it is against the commission under that clause.
268B: Section 5 Statements of financial interests
(a) Every candidate for public office shall file a statement of financial interest for the preceding calendar year with the commission on or before the date on which a certificate of nomination or nomination papers for such candidate are submitted to the state secretary. Every candidate for public office who has not filed nomination papers with the state secretary, but on whose behalf a statement of organization of a political committee has been filed with the director of campaign and political finance under section five of chapter fifty-five, and who is seeking public office by the so-called "write in" or "sticker" method, shall within three days after such filing file a statement of financial interest with the commission.
(b) Every public official shall file a statement of financial interest for the preceding calendar year with the commission on or before the last Tuesday in May of the year in which such public official first enters such public office and of each year that such public official holds such office, and on or before May first of the year after such public official leaves such office; provided, however, that no public official shall be required to file a statement of financial interests for the year in which he ceased to be a public official if he served for less than thirty days in such year.
(c) Every public employee shall file a statement of financial interests for the preceding calendar year with the commission within thirty days after becoming a public employee, on or before May first of each year thereafter that such person is a public employee and on or before May first of the year after such person ceases to be a public employee; provided, however, that no public employee shall be required to file a statement of financial interests for the year in which he ceased to be a public employee if he served less than thirty days in such year.
(d) The commission shall, upon receipt of a statement of financial interests pursuant to the provisions of this section, issue to the person filing such statement a receipt verifying the fact that a statement of financial interests has been filed and a receipted copy of such statement.
(e) No public employee shall be allowed to continue in his duties or to receive compensation from public funds unless he has filed a statement of financial interests with the commission as required by this chapter.
(f) The statement of financial interests filed pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be on a form prescribed by the commission and shall be signed under penalty of perjury by the reporting person.
(g) Reporting persons shall disclose, to the best of their knowledge, the following information for the preceding calendar year, or as of the last day of said year with respect to the information required by clauses (2), (3) and (6) below; such persons shall also disclose the same information with respect to their immediate family provided, however, that no amount need be given for such information with regard to the reporting person's immediate family:
(l) the name and address of, the nature of association with, the share of equity in, if applicable, and the amount of income if greater than one thousand dollars derived from each business with which he is associated;
(2) the identity of all securities and other investments with a fair market value of greater than one thousand dollars which were beneficially owned, not otherwise reportable hereunder; and the amount of income if over one thousand dollars from any such security which is issued by the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof or any public agency or authority created by the general court;
(3) the name and address of each creditor to whom more than one thousand
dollars was owed and the original amount, the amount outstanding, the terms of repayment, and the general nature of the security pledged for each such obligation except that the original amount and the amount outstanding need not be reported for a mortgage on the reporting person's primary residence; provided, however, that obligations arising out of retail installment transactions, educational loans, medical and dental expenses, debts incurred in the ordinary course of business, and any obligation to make alimony or support payments, shall not be reported; and provided, further, that such information need not be reported if the creditor is a relative of the reporting person within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity;
(4) the name and address of the source, and the cash value of any reimbursement for expenses aggregating more than one hundred dollars in the calendar year if the source of such reimbursement is a legislative or executive agent; or if the recipient is a public official and the source of such reimbursement is a person having a direct interest in legislation, legislative action, or a matter before a governmental body; or if the recipient is a public employee and the source of such reimbursement is person having a direct interest in a matter before the governmental body by which the recipient is employed;
(5) the name and address of the donor, and the fair market value, if determinable, of any gifts aggregating more than one hundred dollars in the calendar year, if the recipient is a public official and the source of such gift(s) is a person having a direct interest in legislation, legislative action, or a matter before a governmental body; or if the recipient is a public employee and the source of such gift(s) is a person having a direct interest in a matter before the governmental body by which the recipient is employed;
(6) the description, as appearing on the most recent tax bill, and the amount of assessed value of all real property located within the commonwealth, in which a direct or indirect financial interest was held, which has an assessed value greater than one thousand dollars; and, if the property was transferred during the year, the name and address of the person furnishing consideration to the reporting person or receiving it from him in respect to such transfer;
(7) the name and address of the source, and the fair market value, of any honoraria aggregating more than one hundred dollars if the source of such honoraria is a legislative agent; or if the recipient is a public official and the source of such honoraria is a person having a direct interest in legislation, legislative action, or a matter before a governmental body; or if the recipient is a public employee and the source of such honoraria is a person having a direct interest in a matter before the governmental body by which the recipient is employed;
(8) the name and address of any creditor who has forgiven an indebtedness of over one thousand dollars, and the amount forgiven; provided, however, that no such information need be reported if the creditor is a relative within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity of the reporting person, or the spouse of such a relative;
(9) the name and address of any business from which the reporting person is taking a leave of absence;
(10) the identity of any equity in a business with which the reporting person is associated which has been transferred to a member of the reporting person's immediate family; provided, however, that a member of the reporting person's family need not report any such transfer to the reporting person.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the disclosure of information which is privileged by law.
Failure of a reporting person to file a statement of financial interests within ten days after receiving notice as provided in clause (f) of section three of this chapter, or the filing of an incomplete statement of financial interests after receipt of such a notice, is a violation of this chapter and the commission may initiate appropriate proceedings pursuant to the provisions of section four.
268B: Section 6 Gifts from legislative agents
No executive or legislative agent shall knowingly and willfully offer or give to any public official or public employee or a member of such person's immediate family, and no public official or public employee or member of such person's immediate family shall knowingly and willfully solicit or accept from any executive or legislative agent, any gift of any kind or nature; provided, however, that the state ethics commission shall promulgate regulations: (i) establishing exclusions for ceremonial gifts; (ii) establishing exclusions for gifts given solely because of family or friendship; and (iii) establishing additional exclusions for other situations that do not present a genuine risk of a conflict or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
For the purposes of this section, a person who holds a license issued by the Massachusetts gaming commission, who was required to apply for that license pursuant to section 14 of chapter 23K, shall be considered a legislative agent.
268B: Section 7 Penalties for violation of confidentiality and for perjury
Any person who violates the confidentiality of a commission inquiry under the provisions of paragraph (a) of section four of this chapter shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
Any person who willfully affirms or swears falsely in regard to any material matter before a commission proceeding under paragraph (c) of section four of this chapter, or who willfully files a materially false statement of financial interests under section five of this chapter shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or in a jail or house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years, or both.
268B: Section 8 Retribution for engaging in commission proceedings
No officer or employee of the commonwealth or of any county, city or town shall discharge an officer or employee, or change his official rank, grade or compensation, or deny him a promotion, or threaten so to do, for filing a complaint with or providing information to the commission or testifying in any commission proceeding.