The sister of Assistant Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing III has filed an ethics commission complaint against him, a week after filing a lawsuit against the Newport Republican alleging he fraudulently siphoned off assets from a family corporation.

In the ethics complaint, Laura Cushing McIntyre of Hermon asks Maine’s ethics commission – which enforces state campaign finance rules – to investigate her brother over possibly improper financial transfers among Cushing, his leadership political action committee, his campaign and a corporation that she says he controls, New England Forest Products.

“The ethics committee is there to make sure all candidates are properly managing the funds they receive,” McIntyre told the Portland Press Herald on Friday, adding that she first raised questions with the commission about one of these payments in August 2015 but that it was not acted upon. “All candidates should be following the rules.”

McIntyre’s ethics complaint, received by the commission Thursday, includes an inventory of financial transfers among these entities she says she compiled over three years of research into possible improprieties involving the Cushing Family Corp., set up by her and Cushing’s late father to manage family timber assets. If accurate, the transfers would run afoul of campaign finance rules because they were not reported in campaign finance disclosures.

The inventory – first reported by the Press Herald this week – lists numerous alleged financial transfers between these entities from July 2014 to Oct. 2, 2016. It shows five payments from his Respect Maine leadership PAC to the company totaling $18,500 and one from Cushing for Senate for $6,000. It also shows six alleged check payments to Cushing’s political organizations – some to the PAC, some to Cushing’s campaign, and some to Cushing with a memo referencing the PAC – totaling $27,900.

Cushing said by email that he had received a copy of the complaint and “will review our accounts referenced and reply to any inquiries.”


He also said that one recent payment – an $8,000 transfer in September from his Respect Maine PAC to one of his corporations – was made in error. He said his corporate and political accounts are all at Bangor Savings Bank, leading to the confusion. “Our bookkeeper identified this issue and advised us,” Cushing said in his email. “She recommended writing a check to return the funds which was approved and funds were transferred back to Respect Maine.”

This particular payment does not appear in the inventory his sister included with her complaint.

Cushing said that another of the transfers McIntyre had enumerated – an Oct. 2 deposit from Cushing for Senate into New England Forest Products’ account – had not taken place. The company, he said, “was sold in 2015 and ceased operations.”

The executive director of the ethics commission, Jonathan Wayne, said his staff was studying McIntyre’s request. “I will be seeking some clarifying information from Ms. McIntyre. Then, I will be seeking a response from Sen. Cushing and scheduling this for the commissioners to decide whether or not to conduct an investigation,” he said by email. Such a meeting would not take place before Election Day, he said.

Cushing is running for re-election to represent a Senate district that includes his hometown of Newport and 16 other Penobscot County towns against independent Dennis Marble. He questioned the timing of the ethics complaint, given that his sister filed the lawsuit just last week.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 13 in Penobscot County Superior Court, claims Cushing misappropriated more than $1 million from the Cushing Family Corp. via unapproved loans, real estate commissions and other transfers to himself or business entities in which he held an interest. McIntyre, an 11 percent shareholder in the family corporation, is seeking punitive damages and her share of the misappropriated money. Cushing has said her claims are without merit.

Reached by telephone Friday about the lawsuit, McIntyre said she had been working for three years to try to resolve the issue, going through two decades of documents herself to keep legal costs down.

“It’s a little heartbreaking when you’ve been working on this with lawyers for years, with letter after letter going to the family corporation and having them not meet any deadlines or respond,” she said. “I just want my fair share, and I’d like to be able to cordially resolve it.”


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