State Ethics Laws Mean No Cruise for Wellesley Firefighters

Due to Massachusetts ethics laws, the four firefighters who rescued Crosby from the icy Charles River cannot accept the cruise offered to them by "The Ellen Degeneres Show."

Captain Jim Dennehy, lieutenant Paul Delaney, firefighter Dave Papazian and firefighter Joan Cullinan were invited to the show after "The Ellen Degeneres Show" learned of the rescue that occurred Dec. 22.

"It was a nice gesture on Ellen’s part and the firefighters were surprised by that, but state statute is very clear, so we FedExed the vouchers back to the Ellen show," Wellesley Fire Chief Richard DeLorie told Boston.com.

The law states that municipal employees may not accept gifts and gratuities valued at $50 or more given to influence their official actions or because of their official position. Accepting a gift intended to reward past official action or to bring about future official action is illegal, as is giving such gifts. Accepting a gift given to you because of the municipal position you hold is also illegal. Meals, entertainment event tickets, golf, gift baskets, and payment of travel expenses can all be illegal gifts if given in connection with official action or position, as can anything worth $50 or more. A number of smaller gifts together worth $50 or more may also violate these sections.

"The Ellen Degeneres Show" also gave the firefighters personalized life vests. They were able to keep them, however, as they were considered a novelty item.

The department allowed for the show to pay for their plane tickets to California for the show's taping, as the weekend trip promoted a "good public service story" and was not for pleasure. 


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