Rep. Paula G. Sutton of Warren will formally request that the House Ethics Committee convene immediately to investigate public allegations made against Democratic Rep. Dillon Bates of Westbrook.
Late last week, media reports began circulating featuring unsubstantiated allegations against Rep. Bates. After admitting she knew of the allegations months ago and failed to act on them, and lacking any new evidence, House Speaker Sara Gideon asked Rep. Bates to resign his seat in the Maine Legislature. According to media reports, Rep. Bates has refused to resign his seat and has publicly denied the allegations.
“These are very serious allegations against Rep. Bates and as members of the House of Representatives, it is our responsibility to hear this matter,” said Rep. Sutton. “We must be very mindful that due process is a critical component to the proper functioning of our society and Rep. Bates, his constituents and the people of Maine deserve a proper hearing in light of the Speaker’s demand that he resign.”
Rep. Sutton, a member of the Government Oversight Committee, has submitted a House Order asking the House to vote on whether or not to convene the House Ethics Committee to look into this matter further.
“If these allegations are true, Rep. Bates should be held accountable,” added Rep. Sutton. “However, in order to make that determination, we must first have all the facts which is why I believe we should convene the House Ethics Committee immediately.”
The House Ethics Committee was last convened in 2009.
The Maine Senate last convened their Ethics Committee in 2016.
“There are media stories with allegations from a victim who spoke out about Rep. Bates’ alleged misconduct as a teacher and a coach,” said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette. “The Speaker of the House, a Democrat, has demanded his resignation. To not take action on these allegations erodes public trust in our elected officials and the Maine House of Representatives. This is the purpose of the House Ethics Committee.”
Rep. Sutton’s House Order will be taken up when the House reconvenes their special session in the coming weeks to take up other important matters such as the tax conformity issue.