November 27, 2020

WEST BARNSTABLE – State Representative-elect Steve Xiarhos (R – 5th Barnstable) has announced that he intends to file legislation to remove any uncertainty about the legality of fundraising efforts for first responders who are seriously injured in the line of duty.

The announcement comes in the wake of published reports questioning the legality of a GoFundMe page set up by police academy classmates of a state police trooper who was shot during a traffic stop in Hyannis last week.

Xiarhos, a former Deputy Chief of Police in the Town of Yarmouth, says he supports ethics laws that prevent public employees from abusing their position by using their official title or emblems for personal fundraising purposes during their employment. However, he says legitimate fundraising efforts to support first responders who are seriously injured in the line of duty represent a unique situation that deserves special consideration.

“Without question, I believe our state ethics laws are important and should be enforced stringently,” said Xiarhos. “Those who are employed by state or local government should be held to high standards and should not be able to use their official position for personal benefit or profit. I’m not seeking to change that ideal. However, when you consider the case of somebody who is a first responder seriously injured in the line of duty, I think we should recognize a limited and narrowly-tailored ability for people to raise money to support that first responder and their family long-term. I honestly don’t believe our state’s ethics laws were ever intended to prevent such activity from occurring.”

Xiarhos says he does not believe the GoFundMe account violates state ethics laws as it is currently designed, and also because it is not being managed directly by the trooper or his family. Regardless, he says he wants to make sure there is no uncertainty in the future about the legality of fundraising efforts like the one in question.

“As a former Deputy Police Chief and as a Gold Star Father, I have been deeply involved in fundraising efforts for those who have been killed in the line of duty in service to our nation and our community,” Xiarhos said. “I know how important these efforts are to the families those heroes left behind. I think similar efforts should be possible when a first responder suffers serious injuries in the line of duty. Oftentimes, they and their families will continue to endure hardship and expenses for many years to come. If members of the public want to be supportive and thank them for their service and sacrifice, I think that’s a beautiful thing. In this season of Thanksgiving, let us do all we can to be supportive of such efforts. I believe we can be resourceful enough to accomplish this goal responsibly, without undermining the purpose of our state’s ethics laws, which are also important.”

Xiarhos says the bill he intends to file is one of a number of legislative proposals on a variety of topics that he is preparing for the new legislative session. More information on other proposals will be made available in coming weeks.

The 5th Barnstable District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives consists of the entire town of Sandwich, plus precincts 11 and 12 in Barnstable, precincts 1, 2, and 7 in Bourne, and precinct 9 in Plymouth. Xiarhos was elected to serve as State Representative on November 3, and will take office on January 6, 2021.