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Ethics commission meets over complaint against state lawmaker

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Speaker of the House Mark W. Eves, D-North Berwick

Speaker of the House Mark W. Eves, D-North Berwick

AUGUSTA – The Maine Ethics Commission met Tuesday to discuss a complaint filed against a Maine state legislator alleging a violation of legislative ethics.

“We received a complaint alleging a violation of legislative ethics,” said Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission.

“The commissioners did meet today regarding an ethics complaint,” he said. “The Commission voted unanimously (5-0) not to pursue the ethics complaint or any additional investigation.

Although all persons involved, including the filer of the complaint, the subject of the complaint, and the commissioners, are prohibited by statute from talking about the complaint until it has been resolved, State House sources say House Speaker Mark Eves (D-North Berwick) is the target.

Any member of the public, including sitting lawmakers, are allowed to file ethics complaints.

Eves has taken criticism for advocating for an expansion of Maine’s Medicaid program while working as director of business development for Sweetser, a Saco-based non-profit corporation that receives tens of millions of dollars in Medicaid funds.

Eves has said that he is on a leave of absence from Sweetser when the legislature is not in session.

In February, a group of Republican state lawmakers called on Eves to recuse himself from voting on and advocating for Medicaid expansion. Several days later, Eves requested an advisory opinion from the ethics commission.

In his response, Wayne said Eves did not have a conflict with regard to Medicaid expansion, but cautioned that the advisory opinion is not the equivalent of an ethics commission judgment.

“Please bear in mind that this advisory letter is provided on behalf of the staff of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices,” wrote Wayne. “It is not binding on the members of the Commission, if a complaint alleging a violation were filed.”

Today’s commission vote would seem to close the final chapter in the Sweetser Speaker saga.

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently producer for the Howie Carr Show. Follow him on Twitter @Stevie_Rob or send him an email at Steve@HowieCarrShow.com.

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