Speaker has failed to take action on blatant violation of the law
Rep. Ryan Tipping (D) of Orono is in clear violation of the Maine ethics laws and as the law clearly states, Rep. Tipping now “is presumed to have a conflict of interest on every question and must be precluded or subject to penalty…”
Below is the timeline and the statute Rep. Tipping has violated:
- In May of 2016, Rep. Ryan Tipping was hired by the Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools to advocate for a Citizens Initiative at a salary of $1,500 per month.
- In a letter written to Rep. Tipping from Jonathan Wayne, Executive Director of the Maine Ethics Commission, regarding this matter and in the email, Mr. Wayne writes that Rep. Tipping “explained to me in May of 2016 that you were approached by the campaign in support of Question 2, a citizen initiative to institute a 3% surcharge on Maine taxable income above $200,000 to fund K-12 education…”
- Maine ethics laws require legislators to file a legislative statement of sources of income each year. According to state law:
- A Legislator shall file an updated statement concerning the current calendar year if the income, reportable liabilities or positions of the Legislator or an immediate family member, except for dependent children, substantially change from those disclosed in the Legislator’s most recent statement. Substantial changes include, but are not limited to, a new employer that has paid the Legislator or a member of the Legislator’s immediate family $2,000 or more during the current year, another source that has provided the Legislator or a member of the Legislator’s immediate family, excluding dependent children, with income that totals $2,000 or more during the current year or the acceptance of a new position with a for-profit or nonprofit firm that is reportable under subsection 1, paragraph L. The Legislator shall file the updated statement within 30 days of the substantial change in income, reportable liabilities or positions.
- According to Maine Ethics Commission Filings, Rep. Tipping began receiving payments of $1,500 monthly beginning in May of 2016 and continuing through November of 2016. By law, Rep. Tipping was required to file the appropriate amendment to his income statements with the Maine Ethics Commission by no later than August 7, 2016 and failed to do so until February of 2017.
- According to Rep. Tipping’s source of income filings for 2016, he did not file the change of income paperwork required by law in the 30 day allotted time frame.
- According to Maine law, Rep. Tipping now has a defacto presumption of a conflict of interest “on every question and must be precluded or subject to penalty.” The statute is quoted below:
If the commission determines that a Legislator has willfully failed to file a statement required by this subchapter or has willfully filed a false statement, the Legislator is presumed to have a conflict of interest on every question and must be precluded or subject to penalty as provided in section 1015. [2011, c. 634, §11 (NEW).]
“In light of this information, Speaker Gideon has no choice but to take action and convene the House Ethics Committee and remove Rep. Tipping from the Taxation Committee immediately,” said Assistant House Republican Leader Rep. Ellie Espling. “It appears as though Rep. Tipping has violated the law and we can’t just look the other way.”
- There is precedent for the House Ethics Committee being convened for far less. In 2009, then-Democratic Speaker Hannah Pingree convened the House Ethics Committee after Democratic Rep. Richard Blanchard was fined for illegally using fireworks at his camp in Old Town. He allegedly tried to use his position as a Maine State Representative to avoid the $100 fine.
How much more information is needed to show there is clearly a legal and ethical violation before House Democrats and Speaker Gideon decide to take action?