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Attorney General Schneider Releases Letter to Darryl Brown
April 27, 2011
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
AUGUSTA – Maine Attorney General William J. Schneider today addressed questions concerning the potential disqualification under Maine law of Darryl Brown, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, in light of Mr. Brown’s income from Main-land Development Consultants, Inc.
Mr. Brown’s personal attorney, Clint Boothby, wrote to both the Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on April 22, 2011 following Mr. Boothby’s private review of documentation relating to Mr. Brown’s income during the preceding two years.
Mr. Boothby’s letter expresses concern about potential damage to Main-land Development’s business interests from the public disclosure of its client list and revenue information, and questions whether such records would become part of the public domain if submitted to the Attorney General’s Office for its review.
Mr. Boothby states that although “Commissioner Brown’s income is not derived directly from a permit holder … the fact that income from permit holders is received by Main-land may trigger the ten percent conflict threshold.” Mr. Boothby asks if a conflict of interest under Maine law does exist, whether Mr. Brown may continue to serve as Commissioner.
In a letter to Mr. Brown dated April 26, 2011 Attorney General Schneider explains that documentation related to Mr. Brown’s income would become subject to Maine’s Freedom of Access Act if submitted to the Attorney General’s Office for review and that such records are presumptively available for public inspection.
The Attorney General also advises that if he has a conflict, as suggested by Mr. Boothby, Mr. Brown would be precluded from serving as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection under Maine statute. Attorney General Schneider states that “if in fact such a conflict exists, it would undermine your legal authority to act on any matter coming before you as Commissioner.”
The Attorney General concludes that Mr. Brown must either produce documentation showing the absence of a conflict or take other action to resolve this matter. “In the absence of new information, it appears you are unqualified to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection under Maine law,” states Attorney General Schneider.
Questions about Mr. Brown’s potential disqualification arose shortly after his appointment and confirmation. Since that time the Attorney General’s Office has provided legal advice to the Department of Environmental Protection and the Administration concerning the meaning and effect of the governing law.
The role of the Attorney General’s Office with respect to statutory conflict of interest provisions in Maine law is to represent the public interest by advising state officials and executive departments of their obligations under those laws and to enforce those laws when it is warranted.
CONTACT: Brenda Kielty (207)626-8577