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General Laws

Section 45. (a) Upon receipt of a sworn complaint signed under pains and penalties of perjury, or upon receipt of evidence which is deemed sufficient by the state secretary, the state secretary shall initiate a preliminary inquiry into any alleged violation of sections 39 to 50, inclusive. At the commencement of a preliminary inquiry into any such alleged violation, the state secretary shall notify the attorney general. All proceedings and records relating to a preliminary inquiry or initial staff review used to determine whether to initiate an inquiry shall be confidential, except that the state secretary may provide to the attorney general, the United States Attorney or a district attorney of competent jurisdiction evidence which may be used in a criminal proceeding. Any information provided by the state secretary pursuant to this section shall be confidential pursuant to this section and section 4 of chapter 268B, except that such information may be used by the officer or agency to whom it was provided in any investigation or subsequent proceedings. The state secretary shall notify any person who is the subject of the preliminary inquiry of the existence of such inquiry and the general nature of the alleged violation within 30 days of the commencement of the inquiry.

(b) If a preliminary inquiry fails to indicate reasonable cause for belief that there has been a violation of sections 39 to 50, inclusive, the state secretary shall immediately terminate the inquiry and shall within 10 days so notify, in writing, the complainant, if any, and the person who had been the subject of the inquiry.

(c) If a preliminary inquiry indicates reasonable cause for belief that there has been a violation of sections 39 to 50, inclusive, the state secretary may initiate an adjudicatory proceeding to determine whether there has been such a violation.

(d) The state secretary may require by summons the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, papers or other financial documents directly relating to any matter being investigated pursuant to sections 39 to 50, inclusive, provided that the state secretary’s subpoena power shall be limited to obtaining employment contracts and other contracts or agreements related to services rendered, work performed or compensation received in connection with executive lobbying or legislative lobbying. Any justice of the supreme judicial court or the superior court may, upon application by the state secretary, issue a summons to be served in the same manner as summonses for witnesses in criminal cases, issued on behalf of the commonwealth and all the provisions of law relative to summonses shall apply to summonses issued under this section so far as applicable. Any justice of the supreme judicial court or the superior court may upon application by the state secretary compel the attendance of witnesses summoned as aforesaid and the giving of testimony under oath before the state secretary in furtherance of any investigation in the same manner and to the same extent as before said courts.

(e) The state secretary, or his designee, may administer oaths and may hear testimony or receive other evidence in any proceeding.

(f) All testimony in an adjudicatory proceeding shall be under oath. All parties shall have the right to call and examine witnesses, to introduce exhibits, to cross-examine witnesses who testify, to submit evidence, and to be represented by counsel. Before testifying, all witnesses shall be given a copy of the regulations governing adjudicatory proceedings.

(g) Any person whose name is mentioned during an adjudicatory proceeding of the state secretary and who may be adversely affected thereby may appear personally before the state secretary on his own behalf, with or without counsel, to give a statement in opposition to such adverse mention or file a written statement of such opposition for incorporation into the record of the proceeding.

(h) All adjudicatory proceedings of the state secretary pursuant to this section shall be public and shall be subject to chapter 30A.

(i) Within 30 days after completion of deliberations, the state secretary shall publish a written report of his findings and conclusions.

(j) Upon a finding pursuant to an adjudicatory proceeding that there has been a violation, the state secretary may issue an order: (1) requiring the violator to cease and desist such violation; (2) requiring the violator to file any report, statement or other information as required by sections 39 to 50, inclusive; (3) suspending for a specified period or revoking the license and registration of the violator; or (4) requiring the violator to pay a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation. The state secretary may file a civil action in superior court to enforce this order.

(k) Final action by the state secretary under this section shall be subject to review in superior court upon petition of any party in interest filed within 30 days after the action for which review is sought. The court shall enter a judgment enforcing, modifying, or setting aside the order of the state secretary, or it may remand the proceedings to the state secretary for such further action as the court may direct. If the court modifies or sets aside the state secretary’s order or remands the proceedings to the state secretary, the court shall determine whether such modification, set aside, or remand is substantial. If the court does find such modification, set aside, or remand to be substantial, the petitioner shall be entitled to be reimbursed from the treasury of the commonwealth for reasonable attorneys’ fees and all court costs incurred by him in the defense of the charges contained in the proceedings. The amount of such reimbursement shall be awarded by the court but shall not exceed $20,000 per person, per case.

(l) Any person who violates the confidentiality of an inquiry under this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both.

(m) The state secretary shall automatically disqualify any person convicted of a felony in violation of chapter 3, chapter 55, or chapter 268A from acting or registering as an executive or legislative agent for a period of 10 years from the date of conviction.

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