Former Foxboro, Mass. newspaper editor files complaint against state Ethics Commission


By Jack Authelet, former managing editor, Foxboro Reporter, Foxboro, Mass.,  and former director of publications, New England Press Association

Our Founding Fathers wisely extended constitutional protection to the press to insure a free flow of information about their government to the people, who had embarked upon a bold experiment in self-government. Such a free flow of information was critical to the people’s ability to make informed decisions about their government, a need perhaps even more critical today than it was then.

But how can that free flow of information, so critical to the people, fulfill its intended purpose when a major Massachusetts governmental agency – the State Ethics Commission – portrays the press as the enemy of city and town employees as well as countless volunteers sitting on a broad range of commissions and committees throughout the commonwealth?

In a seminar on conflict of interest, the representative of the State Ethics Commission said of the press, “First of all, they never get it right anyway,” further stating all the press wanted to do was to destroy their reputations, “preferably page one above the fold.”  The words were clear, direct, and repeated three times during the seminar.

Hearing these remarks about the press uttered by a representative of the State Ethics Commission in a presentation on February 26, I filed a verbal complaint with the State Ethics Commission the next morning. The executive director termed the remarks “totally inappropriate,” which I took to mean they would not be included in future presentations.

Unbelievably, the “totally inappropriate” remarks continued. The failure of the State Ethics Commission to deal with a situation that could – and should – have been handled in that single telephone conversation a month earlier forced me to file a written complaint March 24 and to go public so that people would know how they are being represented and how the professional media have been misrepresented.

But what of the thousands of dedicated people who attended these seminars in good faith, public servants who deal with the press on a continual basis as media covers their deliberations and requests copies of public documents as they discharge their responsibilities to the people in an effort to keep them informed?

Sadly, the State Ethics Commission apparently attempted to achieve a higher degree of compliance with the law through intimidation and misrepresentation than it could achieve through education and example.

Read Jack Authelet’s complaint to the state Ethics Commission


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One Response to “Former Foxboro, Mass. newspaper editor files complaint against state Ethics Commission”

  1. Ethics Commission responds to complaint from former Foxboro Reporter editor « New England First Amendment Center Says:

    […] Jack Authelet, former managing editor of the Foxboro Reporter, has provided the NEFAC Report Blog with a copy of the state Ethics Commission’s response to his complaint.  Read Authelet’s original post here. […]

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