ethics

Recent Stories

State releases preliminary findings in lottery review

Lawmakers from both parties question preliminary findings that show no evidence the state specifically targeted particular segments of the population in its marketing. The review comes after an investigation by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting that found lottery sales in Maine jump as unemployment increases. Continue Reading →

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Portland primary election challenges lead to proposed changes in campaign law

The Maine Ethics Commission has fined losing Senate candidate Rep. Diane Russell $500 for failing to disclose her contribution to her Senate campaign of a valuable email list, closing the books on a series of ethics complaints generated by the recent Portland Democratic Senate primary. But the complaints — two against Russell and one against primary winner Rep. Ben Chipman — may end up having a broader effect on Maine campaign-finance law and how elections are run. Continue Reading →

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Complaint alleges Rep. Russell’s PAC was “money mill” for her

A Portland resident has filed a complaint with the state ethics commission alleging that the PAC controlled by Diane Russell, a candidate for the state senate and a current member of the House, may have made fraudulent campaign finance filings. “If people know the right questions to ask then the voters can be more informed,” said Michael Hiltz, who filed the ethics complaint against the PAC controlled by Russell. Continue Reading →

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Portland legislator paid self from leadership PAC founded to support other candidates

Since 2013, Rep. Diane Russell’s “Working Families PAC” paid her a total of $7,747 of its total expenditures of $39,583. Unlike other so-called leadership PACs, where most of the money raised goes to support fellow party members’ electoral ambitions, Russell’s PAC gave only $1,550 in contributions to Democratic candidates or organizations. Continue Reading →

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Maine gets F grade in 2015 State Integrity Investigation

The year’s frenetic events in Maine’s statehouse mark a turn towards increasingly incendiary, winner-take-all politics. But the histrionics also underscore a more insidious problem: Maine’s weak accountability and transparency laws aren’t keeping up with the new pace of politics here, and lawmakers are doing little to change course.

This dynamic has earned Maine an F and a numerical score of 59, placing it tied for 42nd among the states in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of state government accountability and transparency conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. Continue Reading →

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Drunk on lottery’s millions, Maine asks no questions about ethics of state-run gambling

The Maine state lottery receives little oversight by the state legislature because, as one ex-legislator put it, the state is “drunk” on the $50 million revenue that ticket sales add to the state treasury and no one wants to question the ethics of state-promoted gambling if it might mean giving up that money. Continue Reading →

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LePage killed ethics reform bill that would bar legislators from paying themselves, family members with PAC money

A bill that would have tightened up regulations that allowed a Sanford legislator to pay himself and family members from a political action committee (PAC) he controlled was killed in late June by a veto by Gov. Paul LePage, which the Maine Senate failed to override. Continue Reading →

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LePage, utilities commissioner at odds over ethics

Gov. Paul LePage has rejected Public Utilities Commissioner David Littell’s decision to recuse himself from voting on a case involving bottled water giant Nestle Waters and the Fryeberg Water Co. Littell claims he has a conflict of interest because he previously worked at a Portland law firm that represented Nestle and the water company. Lepage says that isn’t enough to disqualify him for voting on the case. Continue Reading →

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Maine one of 16 states to push ethics reform, one year after getting an “F”

A lot has happened since the State Integrity Investigation, a first-ever analysis of transparency and accountability in all 50 states, was published a year ago. (The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting provided the research that went into Maine’s grade.) Here’s a report from the Center for Public Integrity, which spearheaded the investigation:

“The project — a collaboration of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International, with cooperation from the Investigative News Network — has been quoted, praised, assailed or otherwise cited by hundreds of news outlets, good-government groups and legislators. The project was also a finalist for the prestigious Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting awarded by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Clearly, the idea of measuring accountability and transparency in state government has touched a reformist nerve — and our package is continuing to resonate across the country.” To read the rest of the story, ‘State Integrity Investigation’ has blockbuster first year,” click here. Continue Reading →

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