Ethics panel draft rule would allow Senator Wolf to keep office


The State Ethics Commission approved a draft rule Monday that would allow public employees, from the governor to a local zoning board member, to continue doing business with the government after taking public office.

The five-member commission decided to relax particular ethics rules after Sen. Dan Wolf, a Harwich Democrat who represents the Cape and islands, sought an exemption to allow him to keep holding office while Cape Air, where he is a part owner, flies into and out of Logan International Airport.

Commission chairman Charles Swartwood initially opposed revisiting the rules when Wolf petitioned the commission in September, but his position shifted into support for the proposed changes, which he said would have an outsize impact on local officials, according to a report by Andy Metzger of the State House News Service.

“As a former selectman, I feel that this is a good thing, and it may be of some assistance to cities and towns,” Mr. Swartwood, former chief magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, said before the unanimous vote. He said, “I’m going to change my position and vote for it.”

The exemption would allow people who contracted with government and later became a public employee to keep the government contract. It would also allow contract renewal, or for a subsequent similar contract, and it would permit “substantially similar” contracts as long as they are not competitively bid and have non-negotiable terms.

In October, Mr. Wolf ended his gubernatorial campaign, saying the ethics process would place his candidacy on hold for too long.