ALFRED, Maine — David R. Burns resigned his selectmen’s seat by telephone to the other two members of the Board of Selectmen Tuesday in the wake of findings that he violated eight state election finance laws in his successful bid for state representative.
Burns is one year into his third selectman’s term. His resignation will become effective at the end of the 2012 town meeting, which is set for March 31, avoiding the necessity of holding a special town meeting, selectmen said.
Burns briefly referred to his state-level troubles as he spoke to Selectman Glen “Doc” Dochtermann and Selectmen Chairman John Sylvester by speakerphone Tuesday evening.
“Sometimes things happen unintentionally that look intentional,” Burns said. “We have to move on, fix things and make it right.”
Burns’ continued tenure on the Board of Selectmen, in the wake of the findings, elicited a “significant” number of telephone calls, questions and comments to selectmen and staff at Alfred Town Hall, said Sylvester, calling into question the integrity of the Board.
The three selectmen spoke about the situation over two meetings, one in open session Jan. 3, and a second in a closed-door session Jan. 13, and Burns made an offer to resign.
“Doc and I have talked about your offer. We appreciate it and thank you for yet again putting the town first, and we’re of a mind to accept it,” said Sylvester. “It breaks our hearts, David.”
Sylvester said the three members of the board had worked well together and that the situation saddened him.
“Our philosophies and approach to things are very much different, but we found a way in every significant instance to put the town first and come together to make decisions that are in the best interests of the town,” Sylvester said. “That is the tragedy of this.”
“David will be missed,” said Dochtermann. “He was a strong selectman.”
“We were able to move the town forward,” said Burns by telephone. He said he would continue to be involved in the town in some capacity.
Burns was elected to the Maine House of Representatives for a term that began in January 2011, representing District 138, including Alfred, Limerick, Shapleigh and Newfield.
In November, he was found by the state ethics commission to have violated eight Maine election laws, including falsifying records, misusing Maine Clean Election Act funds, illegally mingling MCEA funds with personal funds, making false statements, using funds not related to his campaign, misreporting expenditures, using campaign funds for his personal use and using MCEA funds to pay for goods received prior to his certification as a MCEA candidate.
Ethics commission chairman Walter McKee, during the November hearing, called Burns’ actions “mind-boggling.”
“I certainly have never seen anything at this level in terms of severity,” said McKee at the hearing.
As well as finding Burns guilty of violating campaign finance laws, the ethics commission referred the matter to the attorney general’s office for possible prosecution.
His resignation means there will be two selectmen’s position on the March 30 ballot. Sylvester is seeking to be re-elected to a three-year term, and there will be an opening for the two years remaining on Burns’ term.
Nomination papers for the two-year selectman’s term will be available Thursday, said Town Clerk Andrew Bors. Nomination papers for the other election slots — the three-year selectman’s term, an RSU 57 director, road commissioner and trustees of Parsons Memorial Library — have been available for some time. All must be turned in to the town clerk’s office by Feb. 14.
While he is resigning his selectman’s seat, it appears Burns has no plans to do the same at the State House — while talking with selectmen by phone Tuesday he referred to legislative meetings scheduled in the coming weeks.