The Maine Ethics Commission has decided that the only way to determine whether new allegations against former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rosa Scarcelli by her stepfather are true is to make them both give sworn testimony. 

The commission voted unanimously Wednesday to have Scarcelli, her stepfather, Karl Norberg, and possibly other witnesses testify under oath. At issue is whether Scarcelli reported two campaign donations of $850 from Norberg and his then-21-year-old son without their permission. The money was taken from a family account that

Norberg, who is married to Scarcelli’s mother, claims he has no access to. He filed the complaint earlier this month. 

Scarcelli has denied the charges, countering that Norberg’s claims are retaliation for a pair of lawsuits she has filed against him. 

Norberg, meanwhile, has filed a countersuit alleging that Scarcelli used the family’s low-income housing business, GN Holdings LP, to funnel money to her 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Norberg’s ethics complaint is a spinoff of that lawsuit and the latest allegation of a bitter family dispute that also involves Scarcelli and her mother.

The feud has made it difficult for the commission to determine the veracity of Norberg’s claims, which if true, would constitute a Class E crime and could lead to a $5,000 fine against Scarcelli.

Commission staff wrote in a recent report that interviews have produced “sharply contradictory factual accounts” from Norberg, Pamela Gleichman — Scarcelli’s mother — and Scarcelli via her attorney.

Russell Pierce, Scarcelli’s attorney, attempted to convince the commission Wednesday to dismiss the complaint. He argued, in part, that Scarcelli self-funded most of her 2010 campaign and that she had no need to authorize donations without Norberg’s permission. Pierce also argued that campaign staff and other witnesses would verify that Norberg and his son authorized campaign donations during a family Christmas party in 2009.

Commissioners instead agreed with a staff recommendation to have the family testify at a public meeting. The ethics commission has the ability to subpoena witnesses and documents during an investigation. 

At the center of the complaint is whether Scarcelli reported two campaign donations from Norberg and his son without their knowledge or authorization. The funds came from a family business account that Scarcelli and her mother can access.

Norberg told the staff that he and his son don’t have any affiliation with the account — a claim that Scarcelli has called “disingenuous” and “misleading.”

Norberg’s account is largely corroborated by Gleichman, who told the ethics commission’s staff that Norberg did not support Scarcelli’s campaign. 

Pierce said Norberg’s complaint is retaliation for a pair of lawsuits Scarcelli has filed against her stepfather. 

In both lawsuits against Norberg, Scarcelli alleges that her stepfather committed corporate malfeasance and fraud in the family’s low-income housing business, GN Holdings LP. Scarcelli claims that Norberg has allowed her mother, Pamela Gleichman, to mismanage the firm. Scarcelli is seeking the authority to fire her mother in a suit awaiting a decision in U.S. District Court. 

Scarcelli in June won a court decision against Norberg involving the family’s business holdings in Norwalk, Conn. In that decision, the judge ruled that Gleichman must first get Scarcelli’s permission before selling the 42-unit development. 

The ethics complaint is Scarcelli’s second encounter with the commission. She and her husband, Thomas Rhoads, were at the center of a probe into an anonymous attack website against 2010 gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler called “The Cutler Files.”

Scarcelli denied any involvement in the site, but documents in a federal court case suggested that she played an active role in the site designed to discredit Cutler.


Staff Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

[email protected]

twitter: stevemistler


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