Cape and Islands District Attorney Robert Galibois paid a $5,000 civil penalty for violating the conflict of interest law, the State Ethics Commission said Wednesday.

Mr. Galibois signed an agreement in April with the commission admitting that he broke the ethics regulations by using public resources to paint himself in a positive light after being involved in a car crash and promoting a campaign donor’s rental apartments to his office staff.

Mr. Galibois was issued a warning by Barnstable police for a February 2023 crash where he made an illegal U-Turn in his work vehicle, the commission said in a statement. In addition to the improper turn, police said he also committed a marked lanes violation and failed to file an accident report. 

After the crash, Mr. Galibois told his staff to draft a press release in an attempt to turn the public narrative in his favor, according to the commission.

Release of any press releases to the public in order to address public image is prohibited by the conflict of interest law. 

In an interview with the Gazette Wednesday, Mr. Galibois acknowledged the incident, saying he was driving to a work meeting.  

“I thought because I was acting in my official capacity as district attorney that I could use a press release to respond to media articles,” he said. 

In that same month, a campaign donor reached out to Mr. Galibois to offer some of their rental apartments to district attorney staff before they were advertised publicly. Mr. Galibois sent an office-wide email seeing if any employees were interested, according to the commission.

The law states that accepting any gifts or gratuities because of one’s official position is illegal.

Mr. Galibois said his office is not immune to the region's housing crisis and noted that he neither expected or recieved any financial benefit from passing along the email. 

“My motivation was simply to provide a housing option to folks,” he said. 

The conflict of interest law prohibits any official holding public office to use their positions to receive valuable benefits to themselves or others. Addtionally, using public resources like staff work hours and email lists to receive benefits like these are unlawful, said commission executive director David Wilson. 

“District Attorney Galibois failed to uphold this principle when he used the resources of his office to further his own private interests and those of a donor to his election campaign,” he said.