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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Maine Legislator faces fraud investigation

AUGUSTA — Acting on one of the worst campaign fraud cases seen in Maine, the state ethics commission on Wednesday asked for a criminal investigation into a freshman legislator’s alleged spending of thousands of dollars in public campaign funds for personal use and false reporting of that money.

The Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted 4-0 to refer the case involving Republican Rep. David R. Burns of Alfred to the state attorney general for possible criminal prosecution.

A commission audit uncovered numerous alleged illegalities, including mixing personal funds with public campaign money, submitting bogus receipts purporting to justify his spending to the commission, using thousands of dollars in public campaign money for personal use, and reporting nearly $1,300 in expenditures that never occurred.

Commission chairman Walter McKee said he found the candidate’s “righteous indignation” at being confronted with the audit findings, and his response by submitting false documents, “kind of mind-boggling.”

“I certainly have never seen anything at this level in terms of severity,” McKee said.

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