AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Senate approved a slate of gubernatorial confirmations Monday, including three restoring the state’s ethics and campaign finance watchdog to full capacity for the first time in more than two years.
Legislators have not returned to Augusta in months for businesses beyond hearings since it adjourned in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the Senate’s return was not the reunion Democrats and Republicans have been sparring over for weeks, the confirmations assure the commission will be able to continue its work during a high-stakes election season.
The five-person Maine Ethics Commission has not had full membership since independent Margaret Matheson stepped down in March 2018. It is required to be balanced along party lines, with no more than two members of the same party serving at any time. Nominations were made by Gov. Janet Mills and three were approved by the Senate on Monday.
Republican Brad Pattershall’s departure to run for the Senate District 24 seat earlier this year knocked it down to three, and Republican Richard Nass’ term ended in April, although he has continued to serve. Joining the commission will be former Attorney General William Schneider, a Republican from Durham, and former Sen. David Hastings, R-Fryeburg. The independent seat will be occupied by Hampden Town Councilor Dennis Marble.
The Senate also approved three nominations — Andrew Conant of Hancock, Steven Silver of South Portland and Charmaine Brown of Monmouth — to the Gambling Control Board, which regulates the gaming industry in the state. District Court judge David Mitchell of Calais was reappointed.
Though a larger special session is still uncertain, the Senate showed a bipartisan willingness to move through the nominations quickly — all 30 present members approved the confirmations unanimously.
Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated the town where David Hastings lives and that Dennis Marble was no longer on the Hampden Town Council.