On a Tuesday in mid-March, Howard Hock walked into the Framingham city clerk’s office just after 9:30 a.m. and submitted two pages of voter signatures to help Secretary of State William F. Galvin make the ballot this fall.
That day, Hock had taken three hours of sick time from his job as an election specialist in Galvin’s office. And when Hock didn’t leave contact information on the paperwork, the assistant clerk — according to Galvin’s office — instead wrote down a phone number where she knew she could reach him: the office line for Galvin’s elections division.
Hock’s political work for Galvin is one of several newly discovered instances of the Galvin campaign closely intertwining with his public office, including in ways that could violate state ethics law.
Galvin launched an internal review after the Globe reported more than a dozen employees had performed political work for their boss. The Globe has found six more employees in Galvin’s office who have filed signatures on his campaign’s behalf at local clerks offices on weekdays or during normal business hours, pushing the total number to 19.
A six-term Brighton Democrat and the state’s chief election officer, Galvin is facing a primary challenge from City Councilor Josh Zakim. Galvin has said he has not asked employees to help his campaign.
State employees are not specifically barred from doing political work, but they’re not allowed to perform such tasks while on the public clock. Elected officials also are not allowed to “use public resources for election-related political purposes,” according to the State Ethics Commission.
Galvin’s spokeswoman, Debra O’Malley, said Friday that the additional employees identified by the Globe would be referred to the ongoing internal review led by Bryan Lantagne, the head of Galvin’s securities division. She has said that anyone who “improperly completed the time sheet” would face disciplinary action.
Galvin’s office did not make the secretary of state available for an interview.
“He is aware that some employees are active in politics and support his campaign,” O’Malley said Friday, “but he is not aware of the specific activities all campaign volunteers are participating in.”
Three of the newly identified workers handled signatures for Galvin on days they also drew a regular day of public pay, potentially in violation of ethics rules. They include Daniel P. Dermody, a former Taunton city councilor and a special projects assistant for Galvin, who submitted or retrieved signatures for Galvin in Taunton or Dighton on five days in which he worked regular hours, according to time sheets provided by Galvin’s office. On one Thursday in March, he arrived in Dighton at 1:29 p.m. He was back later that month, submitting more at 11:42 a.m. on a Monday.
Tom Fallon, a clerk, submitted time sheets showing he put in for a full day’s work on days he visited clerks in Sudbury or Worcester, where the offices close by 4:30 or 5 p.m. And Sandy Berardi, an applications manager, was filing signatures in Wayland at 1:46 p.m. on a Wednesday that she was paid for a regular shift.
The crossover between Galvin’s campaign and those in his public office isn’t limited to the political trenches of filing signatures. Bridget Simmons Murphy, a longtime election specialist for Galvin and a Democratic state committee member, has also served as a liaison between Galvin’s campaign and state Democratic party officials planning next month’s Democratic convention.
Emily Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for the party, said it’s common for campaigns to designate someone, including state committee members, as a point of contact, adding: “The Secretary informed the Chair to have us e-mail Bridget.” O’Malley said Friday that she wouldn’t comment on Murphy’s “off-the-clock activities.” Murphy, the wife of Suffolk Register of Deeds Stephen J. Murphy, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
In total, the Globe’s review included paperwork from nearly 40 local clerks, each of whom are charged with verifying voters’ signatures that are turned in by campaigns as part of the process required for candidates to qualify for the ballot. Once those signatures are validated by local clerks, campaigns then must submit nomination papers directly to Galvin’s office.
In several cases, the employees’ time sheets provided by Galvin’s office show them using slices of vacation or personal time — sometimes as little as 30 to 60 minutes — on days they also filed signatures with local clerks. Others took full days off.
One worker, in Galvin’s Fall River office, said she filed nomination papers in that city for Galvin but on her lunch break, which is permitted under state rules. An attorney in Galvin’s public records division also performed campaign tasks on three different days — twice using vacation time, according to time sheets, and on another day after he said he finished his shift.
But some employees, such as Hock, took sick time on those days. The $83,612-a-year election specialist had “several legitimate medical appointments” that day in Framingham, where he also lives, O’Malley said, and had only submitted the signatures afterward — at 9:33 a.m. He ultimately put in for 4 ½ hours of regular work hours that day, but O’Malley claims he “was off the clock when he dropped off signatures.”
Hock did not return a message left at his office line.
Several of Galvin’s challengers last week called for an independent investigation into Galvin and his office, but it’s not clear whether any outside entity is reviewing the matter.
The practice of state workers helping their bosses’ campaigns is not limited to Galvin.
At least four employees at the lottery, which is overseen by Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, have filed signatures for her campaign. They include William Zielinski, a lottery account representative who picked up signatures at 3:48 p.m., in Dracut on April 10. He stated on his time sheets that he worked until 4 p.m. on that day, according to records.
“We take any violation seriously and will determine what the appropriate disciplinary action should be for this employee,” Goldberg’s chief of staff, David Falcone, said in a statement.
Another employee in the Worcester lottery office, Michael Lanava, visited clerks on six different days for Goldberg’s campaign — twice when he said he was on a lunch break and four times when he used personal, vacation, or sick time, time sheets show. Falcone said each of the employees “are people who choose to volunteer” for Goldberg’s campaign.
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump has previously admitted one employee filed signatures for her campaign during public work hours. The Globe this week did not find any other instances for her or on other statewide campaigns, including that of Zakim or Governor Charlie Baker, which appear to rely on volunteers or paid staff to turn in and pick up election paperwork for the 2018 ballot.Matt Stout can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.