Bristol man fined by Office of State Ethics

Philip Cohen of Bristol, a retired Department of Transportation paid a $3,000 penalty for for violating a law prohibiting a former state employee from being paid to represent anyone other than the state before his former agency, within one year after departure.

A press release from the Office of State Ethics said after Cohen’s retirement from the DOT, he took a job with a Massachusetts-based company that held state contracts through DOT. Cohen contacted DOT within one year of departing state service on numerous occasions on behalf of his new employer, regarding state contracts that were held, or were being sought, by his private employer.

The press release said Cohen stated the violation was inadvertent, and that he believed that the contacts he was making with DOT were of a “technical” nature that fell within a narrow exception to the statute. He and his counsel, and the Massachusetts business, cooperated with the Office of State Ethics in its investigation.

“Think of it,” said Charles F. Chiusano, chair of the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board in a press release. “Just one call for advice would have provided him with the ‘revolving door’ rules and saved him the cost of doing it wrong.”

“Our number one rule is ‘Always Get Advice!,” said Executive Director, Carol Carson in the press release. “Requests for advice can cover multiple subjects including the appropriateness of giving or receiving gifts in the workplace, conflicts of interest, outside employment, “revolving door” issues, and other situations that inevitably arise, often unexpectedly, in the work environment.”