Lawmaker in ethics probe resumes legislative duties

A lawmaker from Alfred resumed his legislative duties Wednesday amid an ethics investigation and a colleague’s call for his removal.

Republican Rep. David R. Burns is being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office. The state ethics commission found that he violated state law governing use of Clean Election Act money.

Burns transferred public campaign money into his personal bank account, used the money for personal expenses and gave false documents to investigators, the commission ruled in November.

Rep. Michael Carey, D-Lewiston, said Wednesday that Burns should lose his seat immediately because lawmakers should be held to a high standard. Carey called on the governor and the speaker of the House to ask Burns to resign.

House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, said Burns remains a duly elected member of the House and hasn’t been charged or convicted of any crime. “I’m a great believer in innocent until proven guilty,” Nutting said.

First Maliseet legislator to be seated in House today

David Slagger was sworn in Wednesday as Maine’s first Maliseet Indian legislator. Slagger, of Kenduskeag, will be seated in the House today.

Two of Maine’s four tribes — the Penobscots and Passamaquoddies — are already represented in the Legislature; the Micmacs are not. The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians was authorized in 2010 to send a representative to the Legislature.

Maine is the only state with Indian tribal representatives, according to Maine Indian historian Glenn Starbird. The earliest record of Indian representation dates to 1823, three years after Maine became a state, when the Penobscots sent a member.

Trahan leaves Senate job for Sportsman’s Alliance

Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, officially stepped down from his seat Dec. 31, leaving the 35-member Senate short one member on the opening day of the legislative session.

Trahan, who took a job last year as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, announced several months ago that he would resign before the new session began. A letter he submitted to Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, appeared on Wednesday’s Senate calendar.

In the letter, Trahan indicated that he had officially started his new job, which will require him to lobby legislators on fish and wildlife bills. He was the Senate chairman of the Taxation Committee and will be replaced on that committee by Senate Majority Leader Jonathan Courtney, R-Springvale.

A special election to fill the seat will likely be held early this year.