AUGUSTA, Maine — A top Republican legislator’s sister has filed an ethics complaint against him, after a civil lawsuit filed earlier this month in which she alleged that he misused more than $1 million in family business funds.
The complaint, filed at the Maine Ethics Commission on Thursday, alleges that Assistant Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing III of Newport moved thousands of dollars between political and private bank accounts with a family-owned business as a conduit.
Cushing has said the civil lawsuit from Laura Cushing McIntyre of Hermon is “without merit” and called it “disappointing when any family disagreement spills over into the public domain.” On Friday, he said had just sent the ethics complaint to his lawyer for review, but the complaint’s claims led him to “reflect on her underlying purposes.”
The lawsuit against Cushing, his wife, three children and family companies alleges that nearly $1.4 million in loans were made from one family-owned corporation to another, while only $150,000 was approved by shareholders and that since the 2013 death of Cushing and McIntyre’s father, the lawmaker has exerted “control and undue influence” over their mother.
McIntyre’s ethics complaint revolves around allegations that Cushing moved business money in and out of political accounts and asks the Maine Ethics Commission to investigate the “numerous significant issues” that McIntyre says amount to “fraud.”
Between 2014 and earlier this month, the complaint alleges that Cushing’s political action committee, Respect Maine, and his campaign deposited more than $24,000 in an account for New England Forest Products, a family business. McIntyre alleges that the same account wrote nearly $28,000 in checks to Cushing, his campaign and a Bangor Savings Bank escrow account.
Cushing said he hadn’t researched entries earlier than 2016, but in September, Respect Maine transferred $8,000 to a corporate account, but that was a mistake that “should not have occurred” and the money was returned to the PAC after a bookkeeper noticed it.
Jonathan Wayne, the commission’s executive director, said the complaint will be heard at a meeting after the Nov. 8 general election, in which Cushing faces independent Dennis Marble, a Hampden town councilor.