Assistant Maine Senate Majority Leader, R-Newport.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Assistant Maine Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing, one of Maine’s most influential Republicans, announced Friday that he will step down from his leadership position after a year marred by ethics complaints and a family lawsuit.

He said in a Friday letter to colleagues that “at this time, I do not have the ability to continue the duties incumbent with a leadership role.” He will leave the position effective Nov. 1. Senate Republicans said they will hold a caucus to replace him soon.

[Sister’s lawsuit accuses Maine GOP Sen. Andre Cushing of misusing money from family businesses]

The third-term senator from Newport has easily won his elections to the seat, playing a key role in helping Republicans win the Senate majority in 2014 and retain it in 2016. He’s a prolific fundraiser and behind-the-scenes operator in Augusta whose political action committee, Respect Maine, raised more than $380,000 between 2013 and 2016.

But it has gotten Cushing into trouble during the past year. In October 2016, his sister, Laura Cushing McIntyre of Hermon, sued him in a state court after alleging that he misused more than $1 million in family money. Cushing called it a “family disagreement,” and the case is pending.

[Maine ethics watchdog fines GOP Senate leader $9,000]

McIntyre also filed a complaint with the Maine Ethics Commission on the matter. After a probe, the panel fined Cushing’s PAC and campaign $9,000 in August after ruling 11 finance reports arrived late. The PAC raised just under $5,000 between January 2017 and October’s end.

Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, said in a statement that he looks forward to “continuing to work with Senator Cushing on the important issues we will have in front of us in the months ahead.” Cushing couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Cushing’s resignation as assistant majority leader will guarantee that Senate Republicans will have new leadership during the 2018 campaign and in the subsequent legislative session: Thibodeau and Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, are both term-limited and running for governor.

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Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...