By Sara Brown
---- — State Rep. Jim Lyons and state Rep. Marc Lombardo believe former state Rep. Martha “Marty” Walz is in violation of conflict of interest laws over her employment at Planned Parenthood.
In a detailed letter sent to Attorney General Martha Coakley Thursday, they have asked for an investigation to begin.
While in office, Walz sponsored the Buffer Zone Law in 2007 which is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Buffer Zone Law is intended to limit how close anti-abortion demonstrators can approach abortion facilities. The buffer zone became 35 feet in 2007. Coakley’s Office defended the constitutionality of the statute in the federal court proceedings. Prior to that, the buffer zone was 18 feet.
Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization providing reproductive health and maternal and child health services including abortions.
“The conflict of interest law seeks to prevent conflicts between private interests and public duties, foster integrity in public service, and promote the public’s trust and confidence in that service by placing restrictions on what state employees may do on the job, after hours and after leaving public service,” the summary of the law states.
Furthermore, the law has specific restrictions once people leave state employment. There is a “forever ban” on working for anyone other than the state on a matter that an individual worked on as a state employee. The law states that one must never be paid for work on the same matter for anyone other than the state in an effort to prevent selling to private interests their familiarity with the facts of a particular matter that are of continuing concern for the state.
This is where Lyons, an Andover Republican, believes Walz violated the conflict of interest law.
“It would appear that former State Representative Walz is covered by the definition of this statue. State Representative Walz was the leading sponsor of the Buffer Zone Law, and then was hired to a position directly related to the Buffer Zone Law that has paid $250,000 per year,” Lyons says in his joint letter with Lombardo to the attorney general.
“The question we are asking is simple. Is there a violation of the conflict of interest law when a legislator sponsors a law on behalf of an organization, then the same legislator is hired to a position in that organization that has paid $250,000,” the letter asks.
Walz, a Boston Democrat, became the CEO of Planned Parenthood in February 2013. She was in office from January 2005 to January 2013.
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