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AUGUSTA, Maine — The state’s watchdog commission on government ethics may soon have a full membership for the first time in almost two years.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has nominated former Maine Attorney General William Schneider, a Republican from Durham, and Hampden Town Councilor Dennis Marble, an independent, to the Maine Ethics Commission, which has operated for nearly two years with four members, a situation that has at times put it in danger of losing a quorum.
Besides investigating ethics, campaign finance and lobbying violations, the commission also conduct ethics seminars and oversee the agency that manages the Maine Clean Election Fund. It’s required to be balanced along party lines, with no more than two members of the same party serving at any time. Nominees are subject to approval by the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and the Maine Senate.
The commission’s membership dropped to three recently after Bradford Pattershall, a Republican from Freeport, announced he was competing for the Maine Senate District 24 seat currently held by Sen. Brownie Carson, D-Harpswell. State law doesn’t allow members to serve if they have run for county, state and federal office within two years of nomination.
If approved, Marble and Schneider would join Democrats William Lee of Waterville and Meri Lowry of Portland, and Republican Richard Nass of Acton. Mills chose Schneider from a list of candidates recommended by Maine House Republicans. Marble’s name came from lists of independents suggested by the Democratic and Republican caucuses in the House and Senate.
Schneider served as the state’s attorney general from 2010 to 2013 before moving to Gov. Paul LePage’s policy office in 2013. He later served as a District Court judge. He has been an assistant attorney general and a federal anti-terrorism prosecutor and served two terms in the Legislature. He ran an unsuccessful U.S. Senate primary campaign in 2012 against former Secretary of State Charlie Summers, who eventually lost to current U.S. Sen. Angus King.
His time as attorney general was marked by an attempt to force the federal government to allow the state, under LePage, to slash $20 million from the state’s Medicaid program, a battle that went all the way to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston after the federal government declined to rule on the request on LePage’s desired time frame. The court threw out the case.
Schneider was also one of dozens of attorney generals who signed onto a federal lawsuit challenging the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Marble will be filling a long-empty seat last held by independent Margaret Matheson. He has served two terms on Hampden’s town council. Prior to that, Marble ran the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter for 20 years. He ran unsuccessfully against former state Sen. Andre Cushing, R-Newport, in 2016. He served on the state’s Homeless Council and chaired the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce’s Community Council.