Ethics Commisson

Ethics Online Training


Every two years, all current state, county and municipal employees must complete online Conflict of Interest Training. New public employees must complete this training within 30 days of beginning public service, and every two years thereafter. This training is designed primarily for state employees. County and municipal employees should also use this training until it is revised with one tailored to them.

Upon completing the program, employees should print out the completion certificate and keep a copy for themselves. Employees will be required to provide a copy of the completion certificate to the Town or City Clerk (municipal employees), their employing agency (appointed state and county employees), or to the Ethics Commission (elected state and county employees). Completing the single program will be considered by the Commission as meeting the Bill's training requirements until a second program is added.

Technology Note


When multiple users attempt to complete the current training program using the same computer they may experience a problem accessing the beginning of the program. The user will need to open their internet browser, click on "Tools", then "Internet Options", select "Delete Cookies", then click "OK". The user will be able to click back on the Online Training module on the Commission's website and start at the beginning.

Public Employees


A public employee generally is any elected or appointed state, county or municipal employee, whether serving full-time or part-time, and whether paid or unpaid. The conflict of interest law defines a public employee as any person performing services for or holding an office, position, employment or membership in a state, county or municipal agency, whether by election, appointment, contract of hire or engagement, whether serving with or without compensation, on a full, regular, part-time, intermittent, or consultant basis.

Elected members of a town meeting and members of a charter commission established under Article LXXXIV of the Amendments to the Constitution are not public employees according to the conflict of interest law.

Violations of Conflict of Interest

If you believe someone has violated the conflict of interest law, there are avenues for reporting them and complaints are handled by the Enforcement Division. File a complaint:
  • By telephone, by speaking to an Intake Investigator at 617-71-9500 or 888-485-4766
  • By letter, send by mail to:
    State Ethics Commission
    One Ashburton Place
    Room 619
    Boston, MA 02108
  • By letter, sent by fax, to 617-723-5851
  • By using the online complaint form
  • By visiting the Commission offices, located at:
    McCormack State Office Building
    One Ashburton Place
    Room 619
    Boston, MA 02108

Anonymity


While the Commission is required to keep confidential the identity of complainants, the Commission does accept anonymous complaints. However, if you identify yourself in any way, you cannot then ask to remain anonymous.

After Filing a Complaint


The Enforcement Division reviews the complaint to determine whether it warrants additional investigation. Complaints about conduct that is outside the Commission's jurisdiction or beyond the Commission's statute of limitations are closed with no further action.

In most cases, complaints that fall within the Commission's jurisdiction and are timely received will receive limited investigation to corroborate facts or to obtain additional facts to assist the Enforcement Division in determining whether a complaint should be:
  • Assigned to an investigative team as a screening if the complaint suggests a relatively serious violation of the conflict of interest law
  • Closed with a confidential letter to the subject of the complaint warning about the potential conflict of interest law violation if the alleged violation is relatively minor
  • Closed with no action if the facts cannot be corroborated
With the Commission's approval, a complaint may be opened for formal investigation as a Preliminary Inquiry, and at this stage, the Enforcement Division may issue Summonses to compel testimony or the production of documents.

Resolutions of Complaint


The resolution varies with every case. If the Commission determines that there is "reasonable cause to believe" that the conflict of interest law has been violated, then the case can be resolved:
  • With a confidential education letter to the subject
  • With the Enforcement Division issuing an order to show cause, which initiates a public adjudicatory hearing
  • With a public disposition agreement in which the subject admits to violating the conflict of interest law and pays a civil penalty
  • With a public education letter to the subject in which the Commission finds reasonable cause to believe the subject has violated the law, and the subject consents to the publication of the letter
If the Commission finds that there is "no reasonable cause to believe" that the conflict of interest law has been violated, the case is closed and remains confidential.