State Integrity Investigation

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LePage, lawmakers try to get Maine a passing ethics grade

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AUGUSTA — Maine’s “F” grade in government integrity issued last year by a national group has led to a number of reforms in the state’s ethics rules this year, including a bipartisan transparency bill proposed by Gov. Paul LePage that he signed into law last week.

The reforms also include two bills signed by the governor to stop the so-called “revolving door” at the statehouse, where lawmakers and executive branch officials leave government service and go directly to work as lobbyists. Continue Reading →

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UMaine student leads ethics discussion at Statehouse

University of Maine student Shelbe Lane, after giving testimony on ethics legislation at the statehouse, with Michael Cianchette, her thesis advisor and chief counsel to Gov. Paul LePage

An honors student from the University of Maine stood before lawmakers Wednesday and, in a clear and confident voice, walked them through an ethics reform proposal that would require more extensive disclosure of the financial affairs of public officials and legislators. Continue Reading →

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Governor and Democratic leader announce plans to fix state ethics

Gov. Paul LePage — Photo Robert F. Bukaty, BDN

AUGUSTA — Two of the state’s top political leaders are vowing a bipartisan effort to make government ethics, accountability and transparency key issues in the upcoming legislative session. Republican Gov. Paul LePage and House Democratic leader Emily Cain are responding to a national report that gave Maine government an “F” for its potential for corruption. Maine ranked 46th in the “State Integrity Investigation” by three nonpartisan good government groups that was released in mid-March. Cain, the Democratic House leader who is running for a Senate seat from Orono, has proposed two linked initiatives that she hopes will lead to government ethics reform. Cain said Tuesday she will ask her fellow lawmakers to form a bipartisan, joint select committee to consider ethics reform and report out a bill in the legislative session that begins in January, 2013. Continue Reading →

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‘F’ integrity grade spurs leaders to consider new transparency laws

Sen. Emily Cain

When you get an “F,” there are usually two ways to respond: Blame the teacher or try to do better the next time. Maine leaders are taking the second route – vowing to do something about the failing grade the state got last month in a 50-state study of the laws and practices that could prevent corruption. Both the Republican governor and the Democratic leader of the House, among others, said the state needs to take steps to improve laws requiring transparency and accountability in the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Gov. Paul LePage said he has already introduced a bill that “seeks to improve the current disclosure requirements of Legislators and certain executive employees. This is the direction we need to move in to improve Maine’s grade. Continue Reading →

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‘F’ in national study means Maine ‘ripe’ for corruption

State house, photo John Christie

Maine has earned an “F” from a national organization’s first-in-the-nation assessment of accountability and transparency across the 50 states. Maine ranked 46th in the “State Integrity Investigation” by three nonpartisan, national and international journalism and good government groups. The score was based on research into 330 indicators on both the laws and practices in 14 categories, from procurement to campaign disclosure to lobbying. No state got an A, leading the groups to conclude “statehouses remain ripe for self dealing and corruption.”

A leader of the study said a low score means Maine lacks the laws, regulation and enforcement to ensure residents are “getting the performance they hoped to see” from state government. “For a state that ranks towards the bottom like Maine, these numbers matter a lot because they may help explain why budgets are not flush, why roads aren’t repaired, why there are tax loopholes,” said Nathaniel Heller, executive director of Global Integrity, which collaborated with the Center for Public Integrity and Public Radio International on the investigation. Continue Reading →

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