Ex-lawmaker avoids further penalty after Clean Election theft

Posted July 25, 2012, at 2:10 p.m.
Last modified July 25, 2012, at 4:33 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Ethics Commission on Wednesday decided against imposing additional penalties on a former Alfred lawmaker who is serving a six-month jail sentence for misusing public Clean Election funds during his 2010 campaign.

The five-member commission determined that David R. Burns already is receiving sufficient punishment for his actions in the form of a six-month jail sentence for misdemeanor theft and forgery charges, one year of administrative release after his jail sentence and $2,384 that he’ll have to pay in restitution.

“That’s a pretty significant sentence on a misdemeanor,” said Walter McKee, the ethics commission chairman, who is also a criminal defense lawyer. “With someone with no record, it’s almost unheard of.”

The five-member commission was considering whether to impose any civil penalties on Burns, a Republican who resigned from his seat in the Maine House in January after the campaign violations came to light.

Burns, a first-time legislator who was elected in 2010, was found through a Maine Ethics Commission audit to have co-mingled campaign finances with personal finances, falsified receipts, used public money for personal expenses and inaccurately report expenditures.

Burns had qualified for $9,066 in public campaign funds under the Maine Clean Election Act.

His lawyer, Bill Logan, told commission members Wednesday that a civil penalty was unnecessary. The former lawmaker likely will already have difficulty finding the money to pay restitution and finding employment after his jail sentence, he said.