Governor Seeks Greater Transparency in Ethics Bill

February 2, 2012

For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 2, 2012
Contact: Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul LePage has introduced a bill that would encourage greater transparency of financial disclosures from public officials. This bill would improve the current disclosure requirements of Legislators and certain executive employees.

In a recent report by The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, it was discovered that between 2003 and 2010 the state paid nearly $235 million to organizations that were run by state officials or their spouses.

“It is reasonable to ask our elected leaders to disclose who is paying them. It is good for the health of our democracy and the people of Maine,” said Governor LePage. “This will increase trust in the system and ensure that people have the opportunity to take appropriate action and make decisions accordingly.”

The bill would require legislators, executive branch officials and constitutional officers to identify if they or family members who hold executive or management-level employees were paid more than $1000 by the state. Additionally, the executive employee must identify the source of the compensation, the type of economic activity and the title of the position held by the immediate family member.

Lead sponsors of the bill are Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry and House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Sidney. “This bill will close a loophole and help establish a greater level of transparency in state government. I appreciate the opportunity to work with Governor LePage in bringing this bill forward and giving the Legislature an opportunity to improve the law and correct this situation,” said Raye.

Speaker Nutting added, “Republicans in the Legislature have promised to bring transparency to Augusta, and this is one way of achieving that. Maine taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent.”

The bill also requires an executive employee whose employment has ended to file a statement of finances and a statement of positions within 45 days after the termination of employment relating to the final calendar year of the employment. Current law creates a loophole in that if an executive employee leaves office or state employment before the financial disclosure deadline they are not required to file their finances. This measure ensures that loophole is closed.

The bill will now have a public hearing and work session. An affirmative vote by the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs is needed before going to the entire Legislature.