“As the appointing authority, the mayor needs also to keep a close eye on the situation to assure the public has full confidence these roles really are separate.”
The potential for conflicts, or the appearance of conflicts, is enough of an issue that Mayor Kim Driscoll has already talked with Tucker about it.
“I think he has a very high integrity standard for himself, so I would expect nothing less than him complying with the law and avoiding any possible appearance of a conflict,” she said. “We will do due diligence to understand this issue going forward and, for sure, he will, as well.”
When Tucker was chief and his son, Dan, was hired as an officer, Tucker secured a written opinion from the State Ethics Commission before his son, a highly rated candidate, was appointed.
In a recent interview, Tucker, who has been chief for five years and a Salem officer for 32 years, said that if any issues arise about his candidacy, he will contact the Ethics Commission or the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance for guidance.
So, what are the issues for Tucker?
There appear to be several: building and maintaining a firewall between his job and his candidacy; avoiding campaign promises, statements or actions that may conflict with police or city policies and practices; and raising money.
That last one — fundraising — is the third rail of campaigning for public employees.
The state’s campaign finance office has laid down strict guidelines. A public employee can run for office but can’t solicit contributions, host a fundraising event or even “help identify people to be targeted for political fundraising.”
To raise funds, the candidate must set up a campaign committee.
Tucker has not yet said what his plans are, or even if he plans to raise funds.