State Employee Formal Legal Opinions, G.L. c. 268A, § 6

Formal Legal Opinions issued by the Ethics Commission about state employees participating in matters in which they, their family members, or a business organization they are affiliated with has a financial interest.
  • EC-COI-79-40

    What issues arise for a state employee who would like to privately invest in a small business when his state employee duties require him to assist small businesses.

  • EC-COI-80-43

    What issues arise from a member of the General Court and an attorney engaged in the private practice of law who has entered into an office-sharing arrangement with other attorneys, one of whom is a registered legislative agent?

  • EC-COI-82-2

    May a special state employee serve as a consultant for a private organization?

  • EC-COI-82-115

    Section 6 issue regarding an officer of a Bank in the commonwealth who is also a member of the Massachusetts Home Mortgage Finance Agency.

  • EC-COI-82-176

    May a state employee perform classroom instruction for a driver education course while simultaneously employed by the RMV?

  • EC-COI-86-3

    A state employee at the Secretary of State's office is considering a real estate venture that may seek limited partners which is overseen by the Secretary of State's office. Permissible but restrictions apply under sections 4, 5(d), 6 and 23.

  • EC-COI-87-3

    Two members of the board of directors of the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation are special state employees and may continue their outside activities, subject to certain conditions.

  • EC-COI-87-4

    A member of the General Court may continue employment as a consultant to a company as long as his compensation is not derived from any contracts between the company and the state, and he refrains from appearing before state agencies in connection with state contracts or other particular matters.

  • EC-COI-87-11

    A member of the general court must abstain from participating in any particular matter relating to a proposed project site which is located adjacent to real estate owned by a trust of which his father is a beneficiary.

  • EC-COI-87-13

    A chairman of a state agency may serve on the board of directors of a bank mutual fund, subject to provisions.

  • EC-COI-87-20

    A state employee who is on a leave of absence from a private firm which provides contractual services to state agencies must abstain from participating in matters which will financially affect his firm.

  • EC-COI-87-22

    Section 3 prohibits a state agency head from receiving for himself a gift of substantial value relating to duties which the official has performed.

  • EC-COI-87-29

    A newly-hired state employee may receive deferred compensation from his former law firm for services performed prior to becoming a state employee, but must abstain from participating as a state employee in all matters affecting the financial interest of the firm's partners while he remains a partner in the firm's investment fund. His receipt from the firm of free tax preparation services for the current year would not violate section 23 because the firm makes the same service available to all former employees similarly situated.

  • EC-COI-87-30

    A state employee who has been accepted into an uncompensated college fellowship program must comply with section 23 whenever he participates as a state employee in matters affecting the college.

  • EC-COI-87-39

    Members of the Massachusetts Corporation for Educational Telecommunications (MCET) must observe the abstention requirements of both section 6 and St. 1982, c. 560 in connection with matters which affect the financial interest of members or their business organizations. In most instances, members may seek exemptions from section 6 from their appointing officials.

  • EC-COI-87-41

    A Chief Probation Officer in a district court may not supervise an immediate family member, unless the First Justice of that Court, whom the Ethics Commission has determined to be the employee's appointing official for the purposes of the conflict law, makes the appropriate written determination pursuant to section 6.

  • EC-COI-88-17

    A full-time state employee may become an unpaid board of trustees member for an organization for the homeless subject to certain restrictions. Section 4(c) would prohibit the employee from acting as an agent or representative for the organization before state agencies on matters in which the state has a direct and substantial interest. This section would not prohibit the employee from participating in internal board of director discussions including matters in which the state has an interest. An exemption from section 4(c) would not be available since the employee's official duties do not specifically authorize membership on the Board o f trustees. If the state employee's duties require her to participate in a matter which would financially affect the Board, she must comply with a section 6 exemption to avoid a violation of that section.

  • EC-COI-88-23

    A full-time police officer traffic-report in a state agency whose official duties include gathering and providing commuter traffic data to the local media, including a local television station, may accept a part-time private consulting position with the television station as a traffic analyst on major construction projects in the Boston area. The private work will be done during the officer's private hours, using only private vehicles, equipment and materials and would not under section 4(a) be in connection with particular matters in which his state agency has a direct and substantial interest. The state employee would also be subject to the provisions of section 6 and cannot participate as a state employee in any matter which could affect the television station's financial interest.

  • EC-COI-89-5

    The chairman of the board of regents of higher education may also serve as "of counsel" to a law firm which represents clients in matters within the official responsibility of the board of regents, subject to certain conditions. He must abstain from participating as chairman in any matter in which his firm represents a client, and must arrange to have the firm segregate from his compensation any fees connected with representation in board-related matters. Because his of counsel relationship does not have the attributes of a partnership, the firm's partners may represent private clients in matters within the official responsibility of the board.

  • EC-COI-89-11

    A state employee who wishes to resign and accept a consultant contract with the same state agency must comply with the conditions

  • EC-COI-89-12

    A member of the judiciary may accept membership on the board of advisors to a hospital, subject to certain limitations. He must avoid appearing on behalf of the hospital before any state agencies and must dispel any appearance of undue favoritism as a judge towards the hospital.

  • EC-COI-89-15

    An unpaid member of a state authority is a special state employee. He may retain his membership on the board of overseers of an institution that falls under the jurisdiction of his state authority because, in this case, the overseers do not have management authority over the institution, but instead have advisory authority. Therefore, the employee's status as a board member does not require his abstention under section 6, although proper disclosures under section 23 could be necessary in certain instances. As a special state employee, he must avoid acting as agent or attorney for the institution in connection with anything under his official responsibility at the authority.

  • EC-COI-89-16

    A state employee may participate in a matter involving a person who was, 10 years ago, a member of the same athletic club as the state employee, and whom the state employee has not seen in 10 years with the exception of three chance social occasions. To dispel the appearance of favoritism, however, the employee should make a public disclosure to his appointing authority of his past friendship, and be guided by the standards of conduct set forth in section 23.

  • EC-COI-89-29

    A special state employee who is also a private attorney may participate as a state employee in the re-sale of property previously purchased by his state agency from a former legal client of the special state employee. The employee must abstain from participating in particular matters that affect his own financial interests or those of his immediate family, partners, or associates, and must

  • EC-COI-90-4

    Section 4 of G.L. c. 268A permits housing court specialists to perform code inspection work for a housing authority.

  • EC-COI-90-5

    Partners in a law firm may perform legal services for a state agency subject to sections 6 and 23.

  • EC-COI-90-12

    A private attorney who volunteers to serve as a mediator for the state Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to a Department Environmental Protection/Boston Bar Association program will be considered a special state employee under G.L.c. 268A. The restrictions which G.L. c. 268A, section 4 places on the attorney's private law practice will be limited as long as the attorney does not serve as a mediator for DEP for more than 60 days in any 365-day period.

  • EC-COI-92-3

    A federal agency is an "organization" (but not necessarily a "business organization") within the meaning of G.L. c. 268A, section 6. Consequently, a state employee who negotiates for employment with a federal government agency may trigger the disclosure/determinations requirements of section 6. The federal government is not, however, treated as a single organization. Rather, each federal agency may be treated as a separate organization.

  • EC-COI-92-4

    A volunteer state employee may continue to receive compensation from his private employer, from whom he has obtained a leave of absence, provided that a specifically tailored state regulation authorizes the arrangement, notwithstanding the restrictions of G.L. c. 268A, section 4. The regulation would make the arrangement "as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duties" within the meaning of section 4. The state employee will, however, be subject to other guidelines under c. 268A.

  • EC-COI-92-8

    A member of the General Court may hold, and receive compensation for, an elective or appointive municipal office without the necessity of complying with the "purview" restrictions applicable to other state employees (found in G.L. c. 268A, section 4). Members of the General Court are exempt from the restrictions of section 4, except under limited circumstances.

  • EC-COI-92-12

    An appointed state employee, even if unpaid, may not solicit campaign contributions from persons under his regulatory jurisdiction, nor use state facilities or resources in such solicitations.

  • EC-COI-92-25

    A state environmental police officer may also be appointed to an unpaid municipal conservation commission, but he may not act as that commission's agent in relation to any particular matter within his state agency's purview. In effect, he may also not perform his state environmental police duties within that town.

  • EC-COI-92-35

    Section 7 prohibits an employee of a state agency from having a financial interest in state subsidized rents (or other state benefits paid directly to the state employee in exchange for goods or services) unless she can rely upon an exemption to section 7. In addition, section 23 prohibits a state employee from initiating private business relationships with person over whom she exercises official authority.

  • EC-COI-93-24

    268A and 268B would regulate the private law practice of a potential appointee to the State Ethics Commission. The potential appointee would be unable to take any official action on matters involving clients represented by her private law firm. Fellow members and associates of her firm (which is a Professional Corporation) are not "partners" for the purposes of section 5(d), unless there is reason to disregard the corporate entity.

  • EC-COI-94-1

    A staff member of the State Board of Retirement (Board) may seek election to the Board and may continue to hold his current full-time staff position if he is elected to the Board. If he is elected, he will not need a section 7(e) exemption, as the Board's enabling statute requires that the elected member be a current or retirement member of the state retirement system. Thus, he would serve on the Board by virtue of his state position, which is analogous to an ex officio post. Additionally, the Board member must be an active participant in the retirement system, the enabling statute contemplates that he will participate in particular matters that affect all retirement system participants, including himself. Therefore section 6 will not prohibit such participation.

  • EC-COI-94-10

    Using a five-factor jurisdictional test, a Governor's advisory commission is determined to be a public instrumentality for purposes of G.L. c. 268A. Members of the commission who are not otherwise employed by the Commonwealth will be subject to the conflict of interest law as special state employees.

  • EC-COI-94-11

    A state board member, who is also a member of the board of directors of a private corporation, is generally prohibited by G.L. c. 268A, section 6 from participating in certain activities of the state board which would affect the financial interests of the private corporation. However, because his official duties do not "require" him to participate in any matter pending before the state board, the member may simply abstain from participating in those activities affecting the corporation's financial interests, and need not publicly disclose the corporation's financial interest in the matters.

  • EC-COI-95-9

    A member of the General Court, privately employed as a residential loan officer, is advised that he may not accept commissions for initiating loans which involve state financial assistance programs. Also, his private work is subject to the restrictions of G.L. c. 268A, sections 4, 6 and 23.

  • EC-COI-97-3

    A charter school is a public rather than private entity and a state rather than a municipal agency. A charter school trustee who serves without election or appointment cannot obtain an exemption under section 6. A charter school trustee may serve on an elected school committee subject to certain restrictions under sections 4, 6, 17, and 23.

  • EC-COI-98-4

    A duly elected Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Retirement Board member may participate in board determinations on cost of living adjustments for retired Turnpike Authority employees.

  • EC-COI-04-2

    A state college professor may assign to his students textbooks he has written and receive royalties or other financial benefits from the students' purchase of the textbooks provided he first receives a written determination from his appointing authority pursuant to G.L. c. 268A, section 6.

  • EC-COI-06-3

    Where a state board member is also a municipal employee, the municipality's financial interest in a particular matter before the state board will not, in and of itself, bar the state board member from participating as such in the particular matter, because a municipality is not a business organization within the meaning of G. L. c. 268A. In the current opinion, the Commission reversed its prior rulings, to the extent that they hold otherwise, that a municipality is a business organization, which had followed Conflict Opinion No. 613, Attorney General Quinn (1974). The Commission also concluded that counties are not business organizations.

  • EC-COI-07-2

    Based on the Commission's reconsideration of the meaning of the term business organization in G. L. c. 268A, sections 6, 13 and 19, neither the common and ordinary meaning of business organization nor the legislative history and intent of the statute require or support the inclusion of charitable, non-profit organizations that do not substantially engage in business activities within the scope of the term. Accordingly, the Commission will not treat charitable, non-profit organizations that do not substantially engage in business activities as business organizations for conflict of interest law purposes.


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