Haley’s case moved to mediation

Gary Haley during the State Ethics Commission hearing held via Zoom Tuesday morning.

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission held a hearing Tuesday regarding Aquinnah select board member Gary Haley, who was accused by the commission in May of allegedly overbilling the town of Aquinnah by more than $4,000 for electrical conduit work in 2018. The commission alleges that Haley also approved the payment to himself and two alleged assistants, which was placed in the town’s expense warrant. Haley’s case will be moved to mediation on an undecided future date. 

Commission member Eron Hackshaw facilitated the hearing. 

Attorney Candies Pruitt, staff counsel for the commission’s enforcement division, said Haley does not dispute the facts of what happened, and his offered explanations do not change the conflict of interest law violations that occurred. 

“He alleges he had not planned to charge the town until he decided to charge the town because Eversource’s contractor caused Mr. Haley to ‘hand-dig and shovel sand by hand,’” Pruitt said. “Mr. Haley had a financial interest in hiring himself to install the conduits because he expected payment.” 

Pruitt asked the commission for a partial decision on the pleadings Haley, as a select board member, decided to hire himself and for having a contract with the town. 

Attorney Richard Gross, representing Haley, said Haley did the conduit work because they had become a “town emergency,” and a hazard to those who went to the Aquinnah Circle area. Gross also said Haley had no knowledge of his invoice being in the warrant when he approved it, attributing it to mistakes made by the town accountant Emily Day. 

“As the undisputed facts show, there was never any contract with the town,” Gross said. “[The allegation] instead describes Haley acting as a volunteer to solve an emergency faced by the town, at no cost to the town.” 

Gross asked the commission to end the case in a summary disposition for Haley. 

Pruitt asked the commission to deny Gross’s request for a summary disposition. Gross proposed instead that they go through a mediation process, saying it is better for both parties to be cooperative rather than combative. Pruitt had no objection to mediation. 

The ethics commission is empowered to impose up to $10,000 in fines for conflict of interest violations.