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Settlement

Settlement In the Matter of Mary L. Padula

Date: 10/30/1987
Organization: State Ethics Commission
Docket Number: 347

Disposition Agreement

This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into between the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mary L. Padula (Senator Padula) pursuant to section 11 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented to final Commission order enforceable in the Superior Court pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(j).  

On June 8,1987, the Commission initiated a preliminary inquiry pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(a) into 

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 possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Senator Padula. The Commission has concluded that preliminary inquiry and, on September 16,1987, found reasonable cause to believe that Senator Padula violated G.L. c. 268A, s.6.  

The parties now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

1. Senator Padula has been a state senator since January, 1983. As such, she is a state employee as defined in s.1(q) of G.L. c. 268A.  

2. Senator Padula has, at all material times herein, had a support staff of three or four legislative aides and clerical assistants.  

3. In the Senate, the Committee on Rules makes the appointments of all staff assistants to individual senators. The Senate President is Chairman of the Committee on Rules. As a matter of practice, a senator's request to fill a staffing position with a certain individual is directed to the Senate President's attention. Such requests are typically granted.

4. In the late spring of 1984 there was a vacancy in one of Senator Padula's legislative aide positions. A member of Senator Padula's staff suggested the Senator's daughter, Gayle Padula, for the vacancy. Senator Padula accepted the suggestion.

5. Senator Padula spoke to Senate President William M. Bulger indicating she would like Gayle Paula hired to fill the above vacancy. Senate President Bulger directed Senator Padula to put her request in writing.

6. Senator Padula subsequently caused a letter to be sent to Senate President Bulger indicating that she had approved the hiring of her daughter, Gayle Padula, to serve as her legislative aide subject to Senate President Bulger's approval. She also asked that Gayle Padula be paid at the same salary level as her predecessor, such appointment to be effective July 1,1984.

7. By letter dated June 28,1984, Senate President Bulger notified the Comptroller that Gayle Padula was being hired as a legislative aide at a salary of $19,500 commencing on July 1,1984.

8. By letter dated January 15,1987, Gayle Padula resigned her legislative aide position, effective January 14,1987.

9. Section 6 of G.L. c. 268A provides in relevant part that, except as otherwise permitted by s.6, a state employee is prohibited from participating, as such an employee, in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, a member of his immediate family has a financial interest.[1]

10. The appointment of Gayle Padula as a legislative aide was a "particular matter." Senator Padula "participated" in that matter by approving her daughter to fill the legislative aide position and then requesting that the Senate President approve the hiring. Because the position was a paid position, Gayle Padula had, at the time of the appointment, a "financial interest," in the appointment. Senator Padula was aware at the time she participated that her daughter would receive compensation for her services as a legislative aide.

11. By approving her daughter to be her legislative aide and requesting the Senate President to approve that selection, all as described above, Senator Padula participated as a Senator in a particular matter in which her daughter had a financial interest, thereby violating G.L. c. 268A, s.6.

12. The Commission has found no evidence to suggest that Senator Padula was aware that her actions violated G.L. c. 268A.[2] In addition, the Commission acknowledges Senator Padula's position that she was not technically the hiring authority for her daughter.[3]

In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A, s.6, the Commission has determined that the public interest would be served by the disposition of this matter without further enforcement proceedings on the basis of the following terms and conditions agreed to by Senator Padula:

1. that she pay to the Commission the sum of seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.6 by participating in the hiring of her daughter as a legislative aide; and

2. that she waive all rights to contest the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement in any related administrative or judicial proceeding to which the Commission is or may be a party.

[1] Section 6 further provides that any state employee whose duties would otherwise require him to participate in such a particular matter shall advise the official responsible for appointment to his position and the state ethics commission of the nature and circumstances of the particular matter and make full disclosure of such financial interest, and the appointing official shall thereupon either: 

(1) assign the particular matter to another employee; or

(2)
assume responsibility for the particular matter or

(3) make a
written determination that the interest is not so substantial as to be deemed likely to affect the integrity of the services which the commonwealth may expect from the employee. in which case it shall not be a violation for the employee to participate in the particular matter. Copies of such written determination shall be forwarded to the employee and filed with the state ethics commission by the person who made the determination. Such copy shall be retained by the commission for a period of six years. 

Senator Padula could not take advantage of this s.6 exception inasmuch as she is an elected official with no appointing authority. 

[2] Ignorance of the law is no defense to a violation of G.L. c.268A. In the Matter of Joseph Doyle, 1980 SEC 11, 13. See also, Scola v. Scola, 318 Mass. 1,7 (1945). 

[3] One does not need to be the sole or ultimate hiring authority to be prohibited from participating in the hiring decision. Any participation which is personal and substantial is prohibited. On these facts, Senator Padula's approval of her daughter's hiring and request to the Senate President clearly meet that test. That is particularly true where such requests are typically granted.

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