Munford being investigated for ethics violations
KINGSTON- Kingston’s newest selectman, Susan Munford, is now suspected of being the focal point of a State Ethics Commission investigation regarding her salary as a town employee and possible conflict of interest violations.
Munford told KingstonJournal.com that she was approached by the State Ethics Commission on Thursday and made aware of a complaint filed against her.
The complaint, which was filed anonymously, alleged that Munford has been paid as a selectwoman and a police officer since her election in April of this year.
It is a civil service violation to be paid as a police officer and an elected official.
Munford says she asked Jay Talerman, Kingston Town Counsel, not to be paid her selectmen stipend in April.
“I had a conversation with Jay after I was elected and I told him I didn’t want my selectmen money,” Munford said today.
Munford was told by the Kingston Treasurer’s office that her selectmen stipend had been added to her salary as a police officer.
Selectwoman Munford is a sergeant in the Kingston Police Department.
Jim Thomas was Kingston’s Town Administrator in April and signed the warrant, which combined Munford’s two salaries together.
Kingston Selectmen are paid $800 annually.
“There were no notations on my check that said where the extra money came from and my check varies from week to week so I just didn’t notice,” Munford said.
Since Thomas’ departure in July, Howlett has been responsible for signing the selectmen warrants.
Munford told KingstonJournal.com that she had been in communication with Howlett on Friday.
“I emailed her and I said to Nancy [Howlett], ‘you knew about this the whole time?’” Munford said.
Howlett responded to Munford and told the selectwoman, “It’s your responsibility.”
Howlett was not available for comment Friday afternoon.
The office of Kingston Treasurer Ken Stevens said on Friday that they process the payroll checks for town employees but the selectmen’s office tells them how much to pay each employee.
“I could see how $30 a week could be easily missed,” Stevens said in his office Friday afternoon.
Stevens said he didn’t believe Munford was responsible for being paid as a selectwoman and a police officer.
“I think the violation lies more in her votes on police union contracts, she’s effectively negotiating with herself,” Stevens said.
Munford said the complaint logged with the Ethics Commission also cites votes that Munford took on police details and a liquor license.
Munford claims that she did not benefit from any of the police details that she approved as a selectwoman.
The complaint against Munford also lists a vote that Munford took to approve a liquor license.
“The only new liquor license in town was Finna’s Tavern and it was lumped in with a bunch of license renewals. I didn’t catch it and it was a mistake,” Munford said yesterday.
As a police officer, Munford is not allowed to vote for issues pertaining to police matters or liquor licenses due to conflict of interest.
Calls to the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission went unreturned on Friday afternoon.
Munford told KingstonJournal.com that she faces disciplinary action from within the Kingston Police Department and the possibility of a $10,000 fine if found in violation.
Yesterday, in a Facebook post, Munford said she had immediately stopped payments from her selectmen stipend.
Munford’s Facebook statement, which was posted on the Kingston Town Locals page, ended with an apology to her supporters.
“I apologize that my actions have cast a shadow on the position of selectmen for the Town of Kingston,” Munford wrote.
Munford also wrote that she has arranged for the money she has been paid as a selectwoman since April, amounting to $492, to be deducted from her next check.