If Maine wants to avoid a problem that has plagued other states, the Legislature should pass L.D. 840, an act to outlaw nepotism.

If it becomes law, the governor, Legislature and constitutional officers would not be allowed to hire family or household members for paid jobs.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, would keep elected officials from turning public office into personal cash registers, taking care of their families first before looking out for the people who elected them.

The issue came up in Maine after Gov. LePage hired his daughter Lauren to serve as his deputy chief of staff. The bill would not affect her or anyone hired before Oct. 1 of this year, so it should not be seen as a referendum on LePage’s choice.

Opponents of the bill will likely point to President John F. Kennedy, who named his own brother to serve as attorney general. The U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington is now named for Robert F. Kennedy, indicating that some people must think he deserved the job.

But it would be wrong to judge this practice by one successful example. For every RFK, there are many other stories of state and local officials around the country who have larded up the public payroll with do-nothing relatives.

It’s understandable that a public official would want to rely on family members for counsel, but they don’t have to be getting a paycheck from the government to do it. That’s why 20 states and the federal government (in the post-Kennedy era) have passed similar laws. The Maine Legislature should do the same. Maine should not leave itself vulnerable to this kind of corruption.