A Maine ethics watchdog said in a Tuesday memo that Maine lawmakers may have been widely unaware of income disclosure rules, with an initial review finding 58 of them didn’t file required updates in 2016.
It comes after the Maine Republican Party has seized on issues surrounding Rep. Ryan Tipping, D-Orono, who LePage called on to resign in February after the party flagged a $9,000 job with the campaign that passed a 3 percent surtax on income over $200,000 on the statewide ballot last year.
One of those issues was Tipping’s disclosure filings: He got the $9,000 in 2016, but his legislative income disclosure filings didn’t reflect them until 2017, even though state law says forms must be updated within 30 days if legislators find a new source of $2,000 or more in income, accept a new job or get a loan at or over $3,000.
But the memo to legislative leaders from Jonathan Wayne, the executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission, shows that the problem is likely bigger than Tipping: It said that his office found 50 state representatives and eight senators who didn’t file needed 30-day updates in 2016 and may have been “unaware” of the law.
Wayne didn’t release the list of those people on Tuesday, saying he was reluctant to because they may be seen as violators. He said he was reviewing whether or not the list is a public document.
A legislator who doesn’t “willfully” file is presumed by law to have a conflict of interest and is subject to penalty by the commission, but Wayne’s memo says his office is “viewing this as an opportunity to provide more effective education” to legislators and it’ll be discussed without reference to specific legislators at an April 18 meeting.