2011-11-22 / Maine

Ethics staff wants Maine campaign spending probe

AUGUSTA (AP) — Ethics commission staff members want the attorney general to investigate a freshman legislator’s campaign spending, which an audit found included falsified receipts and false expenditure claims.

That recommendation, along with findings from audits in two other 2010 legislative races, will go before the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices on Nov. 30.

An audit of Rep. David R. Burns’ publicly funded campaign resulted in allegations of misuse of Clean Election Act funds.

Burns was authorized to spend $9,066 in public funds for the 2010 election cycle. The audit determined that he spent at least $2,500 for personal purposes and that expenditures totaling at least $1,295 were falsely reported in his campaign finance reports.

In responding to the auditor’s request for documentation, Burns submitted cash register receipts that he later voluntarily admitted were fabricated, investigators said. Burns, a Republican, represents House District 138.

His attorney, William Logan, is limiting his response because the audit report has been submitted to the attorney general. But Logan told the Journal Tribune that many of the allegations can be explained.

The ethics commission will also take up cases of two other publicly funded candidates.

Staff members are asking that former Rep. Michael Thibodeau, R- Winterport, be fined $100 for what the audit found was a failure to list the destination or purpose of campaign trips for which he was reimbursed.

In a statement to the commission, Thibodeau said he didn’t intend to reimburse himself for the mileage from his campaign funds but to use them for other expenses instead.

The commission staff also wants a $100 fine from former Rep. Sean Flaherty, D-Scarborough, who the audit found commingled $216.29 in personal funds with his clean election funds.

Flaherty told the commission in an email that he takes responsibility for commingling the funds and is willing to pay the fine.

The commission will also hear a complaint by Rep. Donald Pilon that a state Senate primary rival, Rep. Linda Valentino, opened a campaign office in his district. Valentino calls it a constituent services office. Both are Saco Democrats.

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