LePage submits bill to strengthen financial disclosure requirement for lawmakers

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 02, 2012, at 11:38 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has submitted a bill to the Legislature that would tighten financial disclosure requirements for lawmakers and certain executive employees.

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 $1,000 by the state.

Employees also would have to identify the source of the compensation, the type of economic activity and the title of the position held by the immediate family member.

The governor announced the bill on Thursday. Once it’s printed and assigned an LD number, it will be referred to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee for a public hearing and work sessions.

“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,” LePage said in a statement. “This will increase trust in the system and ensure that people have the opportunity to take appropriate action and make decisions accordingly.”

A recent investigation by the the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting revealed that the state paid more than $200 million between 2003 and 2010 to organizations that were run by state officials or their spouses. Those paid with state dollars were Republicans and Democrats alike.

One major loophole in current law, according to the governor, is that if a lawmaker leaves office or an employee leaves his or her job before the financial disclosure deadline, they are not required to disclose their finances. LePage’s bill would close that loophole.

The bill does not indicate that lawmakers or employees would be punished if they received money. They would only be punished if they failed to disclose it.

Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, and House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, are the bill’s main sponsors but several other legislators have co-sponsored the bill.

“This bill will close a loophole and help establish a greater level of transparency in state government,” Raye said. “I appreciate the opportunity to work with Gov. LePage in bringing this bill forward and giving the Legislature an opportunity to improve the law and correct this situation.”

Added Nutting: “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.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/02/02/politics/lepage-submits-bill-to-strengthen-financial-disclosure-requirement-for-lawmakers/ printed on April 17, 2014