Lawmaker facing ethics investigation resigns from local board but not from House

AUGUSTA, Maine — A lawmaker who has been fined recently for ethics violations and who is under criminal investigation by the Attorney General’s Office has resigned from the Board of Selectman in his hometown of Alfred.

David R. Burns, a Republican House member in his first term, stepped down on Tuesday, according to the Journal Tribune of Biddeford. His term will end officially when Alfred holds its annual town meeting on March 31.

Burns has not resigned from his House seat, even though some lawmakers have suggested he do so. Asked Thursday whether he planned to resign, Burns said he would not comment, but he confirmed that his resignation from the local board had more to do with his workload in Augusta than anything else.

This earlier blog post has some background on Burns and the recent ruling by the Maine Ethics Commission.

In late November, the commission ruled that Burns committed several violations of the Maine Clean Elections Act during the 2010 election. The commission also recommended that the Maine Attorney General’s office investigate Burns’ conduct for possible criminal prosecution.

An audit report of Burns’ campaign finances revealed, among other things, that the candidate co-mingled campaign finances with personal finances, falsified receipts, used public money for personal expenses and failed to accurately report expenditures.

Rep. Michael Carey, D-Lewiston, was among those who has called for Burns to step down.

“He misused campaign funds, which means as a Clean Elections candidate, he stole public money,” Carey said earlier this month. “He needs to face the music. I was surprised to see him here today.”

House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, has not called for Burns’ resignation.

Burns, a first-time House member who was elected in November 2010, represents House District 138 and the towns of Alfred, Limerick, Newfield and Shapleigh. He was randomly selected by the Maine Ethics Commission last year to submit to an audit of his campaign finance practice.

The Ethics Commission recommendation was to order Burns to pay back $2,285 in public funds that he did not use for his campaign. The commission also favored imposing a penalty but deferred action on that pending the outcome of the Attorney General’s investigation.