|Organization:||State Ethics Commission|
Settlement In the Matter of Peter B. Morin
Table of Contents
This Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") is entered into between the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Peter B. Morin ("Morin") pursuant to s.5 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented to final order enforceable in the Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(j).
On August 9, 1993, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into allegations that Morin had violated the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on January 25, 1994, voted to find reasonable cause to believe that Morin violated G.L. c. 268A, s.3.
The Commission and Morin now agree to the following facts and conclusions of law:
1. Morin served in the state legislature from January 1985 to January 1991. During that time, Morin served on various committees, including the Committee on Commerce and Labor and the Committee on Banks and Banking.
2. Morin, as a member of legislative committees, participated in hearings on bills of interest to the insurance industry. Such participation included voting on whether such bills should be reported out of committee. Morin also voted on bills of interest to the insurance industry when they reached the House floor.
3. During the period relevant here, F. William Sawyer ("Sawyer") was the senior John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, Inc. ("Hancock")
lobbyist responsible for Massachusetts legislation. At all relevant times, Sawyer was a registered legislative agent (for Hancock) in Massachusetts. At all relevant times, Morin knew that Sawyer was a Massachusetts registered lobbyist for Hancock. Hancock, a Massachusetts corporation, is the nation's sixth largest life insurer doing business in all 50 states. Hancock offers an array of life, health and investment products. As a Massachusetts domiciled life insurer, Hancock's activities are more comprehensively regulated by Massachusetts than by any other state.
4. Lobbyists are employed to promote, oppose or influence legislation.
5. One way in which some lobbyists further their legislative goals is to develop or maintain goodwill and personal relationships with legislators to ensure effective access to them. Some lobbyists entertain legislators through meals, drinks, golf and sporting events in order to develop the desired goodwill and personal relationships.
6. Annually from 1988 to 1991, Sawyer took a group of legislators and their guests out for dinner and drinks at a Cape Cod restaurant. In 1988, the dinner was held at The Regatta Restaurant in Cotuit. In 1989 through 1991, the annual dinner was held at the Cranberry Moose Restaurant in Yarmouth Port. The cost of these dinners was between $736.10 and $1,131.89 annually. Morin and his wife attended two of these dinners while he was a legislator, on July 1, 1988 and July 2, 1990. The Morins' pro rata share of the cost of the 1988 and 1990 dinners and drinks was $81.79 and $150.91 respectively.
7. Prior to and in conjunction with the July dinners Morin attended, Morin hosted Sawyer and two legislators for golf at the Hyannisport Club, a private seaside golf club on Cape Cod where Morin was a member. In connection with these golf outings, Morin initially incurred the member's charge for guest greens fees, golf cart fees, range ball fees and snack, refreshment and/or lunch charges for Sawyer and the other legislators. Subsequently, Sawyer reimbursed Morin for the cost of all such fees and charges with checks drawn on Sawyer's and his wife's joint checking account. The cost charged to Morin for guest greens fees at the Hyannisport Club was $25 per golfer.
8. Section 3(b) of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a state employee from directly or indirectly receiving anything of substantial value for or because of any official act or act within his official responsibility performed or to be performed by him.
9. Massachusetts legislators are state employees.
10. Anything worth $50 or more is of substantial value for s.3 purposes.
11. By accepting a total of $232.70 in drinks and meals from Sawyer, while Morin was in a position to take official action which could benefit that lobbyist or his employer, Morin accepted items of substantial value for or because of official acts or acts within his official responsibility performed or to be performed by him. In doing so, Morin violated s.3(b).
12. The Commission is aware of no evidence that the gratuities or gifts referenced above were provided to Morin with the intent to influence any specific act by him as a legislator or any particular act within his official responsibility. The Commission is also aware of no evidence that Morin took any official action concerning any proposed legislation which would affect the registered Massachusetts lobbyist in return for the gratuities or gifts. However, even though the gratuities were only intended to foster official goodwill and access, they were still impermissible.
13. Morin cooperated with the Commission's investigation.
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Morin, 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 Morin:
(1) that Morin pay to the Commission the sum of seven hundred dollars ($700.00) for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.3(b); and
(2) that Morin waive all rights to contest the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this agreement and in any related administrative or judicial proceedings to which the Commission is or may be a party.