Maine ethics watchdog: Tighten lobbying limits for ex-legislators

Posted April 18, 2017, at 4:20 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s ethics watchdog declined to investigate a former Bangor legislator on Tuesday, but his new job prompted an agency proposal to bar all lobbying by former lawmakers until a year after their service ends.

The Maine Ethics Commission wants to boost a law passed in 2013 that mandated a year-long “cooling-off period” for former lawmakers entering the lobby. But it only barred activity that made them register as a lobbyist, which is required after lobbying for eight hours or more per month.

It arose after a Republican lawmaker asked the commission to investigate former Rep. Adam Goode, D-Bangor, who took a job earlier this year with the Maine AFL-CIO. The job includes lobbying, but both Goode and his employer told the commission that he was well under the eight-hour limit.

On Tuesday, the commission voted 4-1 that there was no basis to investigate Goode, but it voted unanimously to advance legislation to bar all lobbying by former legislators in the first year after their tenure ends, according to Maine Ethics Commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne. The Legislature could consider the idea this year.

Other rulings

Also on Tuesday, the commission assessed $350 in fines against Rep. Dillon Bates, D-Westbrook, after he was late to return public campaign funds from 2016 and commingled personal and public money in his campaign account. However, Wayne has said there was no unfairness to Bates’ opponent or the public because he spent less than authorized on his campaign.

Former Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, also drew a $300 fine for not reporting more than $16,000 in debt from her unsuccessful Maine Senate primary bid in 2016.

 

SEE COMMENTS →