State Ethics Commission Weighing Election Issue?

By Joshua Resnek

The State Ethics Commission neither confirmed nor denied that an investigation is under way regarding John Burley’s alleged solicitation of votes for his daughter, Amanda, who is running for an empty seat on the School Committee according to Ethics Commission Attorney David Giannotti.

That seat will be filled by a vote of the City Council and the School Committee who will meet in convention in the City Council chamber on Monday, January 8.

Former School Committeewoman and Alderman Millie Cardello is also running for the seat.

A controversy arose last week when it was alleged and revealed that Burley, who works for the city and in fact serves the city council, had apparently been asking city counsel and school committee members for commitments for his daughter.

The position pays $15,000 annually.

There are restrictions and prohibitions against public employees performing duties for their relatives or siblings if the position they are seeking will affect them financially. In this instance, the commission’s term for this action is called nepotism.

The Ethics Commission also restricts public employees’ activities in behalf of their relatives and family members even if for unpaid positions as their decision making could be altered.

Such scenarios are covered by the Ethics Commission’s conflict of interest statutes.

Under the agency’s code of conduct public employees cannot use their paid positions to secure unwarranted benefits for themselves or others and this extends to political activity.

In fact, paid public employees are required to stay out of paid employee political activities.

At the very least, public employees are required to inquire of the Ethics Commission whether or not what they are doing politically for a sibling is allowed or not allowed.

In addition, concerns about Burley’s residency, which is alleged to be in Malden, would restrict his right to vote in Everett.

However this is not an Ethics Commission responsibility, rather, it is the responsibility of the city’s Board of Registrar of Voters.

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