On December 7, 2011 the Governor’s Council considered administering an oath to each participant testifying at the hearings for nominees.
Initially the Governor’s Council agreed that they would administer such an oath, but upon reflection some members had a change of heart.
If a nominee or a witness sought to deceive the Governor’s Council by not telling the truth, there is no specific law or statue that would impose a penalty for failing to tell the truth.
This appears to be the reason why some members chose to oppose the administration of a truth telling oath at all of the Governor’s Council hearings.
This issue was presented to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) on December 28, 2011, however only five of the then eight members of the Governor’s Council signed the request.
In a reply dated February 8, 2012 (461 Mass. 1201), the SJC declined to answer the request, citing the lack of a solemn occasion for answering the question put before them.
The purpose of a truth telling oath appeared to be an attempt to address comments by witnesses and nominees that at times appeared to contradict facts, as the council saw them.
The council has the ability to enforce their own penalties against those that attempt to deceive them. They may address statements made by witnesses that they believe are untruthful, they may ask the nominees to address statements made by witnesses that they believe are untruthful, and they may vote against a nominee that is involved, either directly or indirectly, in deceiving the Governor’s Council.
Administration of an oath to the participants at a hearing is determined by the individual counselor or the Lt. Governor chairing the hearing.
The administration of a truth telling oath has become common place at the Governor’s Council hearings.
Unfortunately the administration of such an oath may not be having the effect that one would expect. When comments are made to the Governor’s Council that do not appear to be supported by the known facts, counselors may now claim that because of the oath such statements should be taken as truthful.
Regardless of whether or not an oath is administered by the Governor’s Council, it should hold itself to a standard that is respectful of the people they represent. When statements are made by witnesses or nominees that do not appear to be supported by the facts, they should respectfully address them and not simply allow them to be made unchallenged.
While there has been a change in the procedures at the hearings of the Governor’s Council, with the administration of the oath, the questionable nature of some statements by witnesses and nominees has not changed.
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Candidate for Governor's Council District Two