Malden Councilor Pays Penalty In Summer Jobs Conflict Case

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By Sam Doran
State House News Service

A Malden city councilor paid a $7,500 civil penalty for conflict of interest law violations stemming from her prior job as the city’s director of human services and outreach, the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission announced Thursday.

In a disposition agreement with the commission, at-large city councilor Karen Colon Hayes admitted to violations that involved hiring two of her daughters and one of their boyfriends for city youth jobs, and boosting one daughter’s pay rate to make her the highest paid youth worker in the program.

Colon Hayes’s position as human services and outreach director included coordinating the Mayor’s Summer Youth and Employment Program, which employs people ages 14 to 24 in jobs that range from landscaping to coaching and teaching.

She hired one daughter for a youth job in 2018, referred to as “Daughter A,” and the agreement states that she continued supervising her daughter despite a warning from Mayor Gary Christenson’s chief of staff “that she could not supervise Daughter A.”

That summer, Colon Hayes approved a pay raise for her child making her “the highest paid MYSEP youth worker in 2018,” the agreement said. After rehiring her the following year, Colon Hayes boosted her pay again, to $20 per hour, which the agreement said again made her the highest paid youth worker for the year with a total earnings of $6,230.

She hired that daughter’s boyfriend and another one of her children in 2019 for other Mayor’s Summer Youth and Employment Program jobs.

The commission said Colon Hayes “violated the conflict of interest law’s prohibition against municipal employees participating as such in matters in which they know their immediate family members have financial interests,” along with a ban on public employees “acting in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to doubt their fairness in the performance of their official duties.”

Colon Hayes refers to her old job on the “Meet Karen” page of her city council campaign web site: “Not being reappointed to my position as Director of Human Services and Community Outreach was devastating. I loved my work and I have much more to give,” she wrote.


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