Guides by type of conflict of interest- Gifts, self-dealing, misuse of position, etc.

The conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, prevents conflicts between public employees’ private interests and their public duties. All state, county and municipal employees must comply with this law.

The conflict law places restrictions on what public employees may do on the job, after hours, and after leaving public service. 

Special public employee status

The conflict of interest law applies less restrictively to people who hold special public employee positions. 

"On the job" restrictions - conflict issues when an employee is acting in his public position

1.  Bribes 

Public employees may never accept bribes pursuant to G.L.c. 268A, § 2.  

A bribe may be anything of any value given to an employee (or received by an employee directly or indirectly) so that employee will take or not to take an official action.  

2.  Gifts

Public employees are generally prohibited from accepting gifts of substantial value ($50 or more) either: (1) for or because of their public position, or (2) for or because of an official action.  G.L. c. 268A, §§ 3, 23(b)(2)

3.  Self-Dealing and Nepotism

Public employees may not participate in their public position in matters in which they or any of their immediate family members have a personal financial interest, unless they get an exemption.

Public employees may not participate in their public position in matters in which a business organization they are affiliated with has a financial interest, unless they get an exemption.

Public employees may not participate in their public position in matters involving individuals/organizations with whom they are negotiating for future employment, unless they get an exemption.  G.L. c. 268A, §§ 6, 13, 19.

4. Appearance of a Conflict

Public employees may not act in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to think that they would show favor toward someone, or that they can be improperly influenced.

Public employees must file a disclosure form prior to participating in matters involving a person/entity who they have a private relationship with.  G.L. c. 268A, §§  23(b)(3), 26.    

5. Misuse of Public Position

Public employees may not use their official position to get something worth $50 or more that would not be properly available to other similarly situated individuals.  G.L. c. 268A, § 23(b)(2)ii.  

"After hours" restrictions - conflict issues that arise for employees in their private lives, when they are not acting officially

1.  Divided Loyalties/Acting as Agent

Public employees getting paid (or receiving any compensation) on their own time ("after hours) by someone other than the level of government they work for (state, county, city/town) in connection with a matter the level of government they work for (state, county, or city/town) has an interest in.

Public employees acting as agent (acting on behalf of someone else), on their own time ("after hours"), even if it is without pay, in connection with a matter that their level of government (state, count, or city/town) has an interest in.  G.L. c. 268A, §§ 4, 11, 17.       

2.  Public Employees who have Financial Interests in Multiple Public Contracts

Holding more than one public position at the same level of government. This section also restricts public employees from having a direct or indirect financial interest in another contract at the same level of government, unless they obtain an exemption.

“Former” public employees – conflict issues for employees leaving, or thinking about leaving public service

1. "Cooling off" and "forever ban" restrictions

2.  Negotiating future employment restrictions 


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