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Maine governor, legislators use 'F' grade as opportunity to push reform

Governor wants stronger financial disclosure rules

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Maine State Capitol building in Augusta

Derrick White/AP

In the aftermath of receiving an F grade on the State Integrity Investigation for corruption risk, Maine’s governor and state leaders plan to take legislative action. Maine ranks 46th among the 50 states.

Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement that his office has been reviewing data from the State Integrity Investigation and already introduced a bill earlier this year to improve the state’s lax financial disclosure requirements. The proposed legislation calls for legislators and executive branch officials to report whether their outside private organizations received state contracts.  

“This is the direction we need to move in to improve Maine’s grade,” LePage said. “It’s clear that many states struggle with this issue. However, it is an issue that I will continue to work on improving on behalf of the Maine taxpayer.” The bill has been approved in committee, but has not yet reached the Legislature for a vote.

As reported in the State Integrity Investigation, the state doled out millions — nearly $253 million between 2003 and 2010 — to organizations affiliated with lawmakers and public officials. None of that information was disclosed, nor was it required to be.  

Maine failed nine categories on its corruption risk scorecard: public access to information, executive accountability, legislative accountability, civil service management, lobbying disclosure, pension fund management, ethics enforcement agencies, insurance commissions, and redistricting. The state received a D+ in political financing and judicial accountability, a C- for budget process and procurement, and a lone A for internal auditing.

Meanwhile, the House Democratic Leader, Rep. Emily Cain (D-Orono), also reacted to the report card, and told the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting that it “may make sense to have some kind of bipartisan task force” to look at the report and receive feedback from the public and experts.

Jodi Quintero, a spokeswoman for House Democrats, said Cain is working with legislative leaders now to put together a bipartisan committee, but lawmakers have yet to propose their own ethics reform bill. 

Maine Republicans control both the House and Senate, as well as the governor’s office.