UNDER THE DOME
The dog ate my nominations
By Jess Kilby
Apparently, apathetic college students and harried high schoolers are not the only people who put things off until the last minute. The legislative leadership of Maine also appears to be prone to procrastination (“No!” you say, “it can’t be true!”) — especially around the holidays.
With the exception of House Speaker Michael Saxl, legislative leaders last Friday had yet to complete their Clean Elections homework for the new year: submit three Ethics Commission nominees each to the governor, and another list of three names as a group. The five-member Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices enforces Maine’s campaign finance laws, including the Clean Election Act.
To be fair, the lists weren’t due until January 1. But with most legislators and their aides out of the office (or out of the country, in one case) until Wednesday, January 2’s kickoff of the second session of the 120th, it’s a safe bet that all but Saxl’s nomination lists were tardy. Assistant Minority Floor Leader Bill Schneider said the chances of his office coming up with a list of nominees before January 1 were “almost nil.” Chris Jackson, communications director for Senate President Richard Bennett, wasn’t entirely sure whether the list was due on January 1 or January 2. And when asked whether President Pro Tem Michael Michaud had a list ready for the governor, an aide replied, “Not that I know of.”
Maybe it’s just the learning curve: this is the first year these guys have had to do any nominating. Previously the governor did the appointing and the nominating for the commission — legislators merely confirmed the nominations. But with the passage of a new law last spring, the task of nominating candidates was passed to the legislative leadership. (Who were evidently partying in Cancun at the time. Sorry, cheap shot.)
Oh, and in case you were wondering: According to Saxl’s chief of staff, Ryan Low, the House Democrats are nominating Presque Isle attorney Jeff Ashby, Death With Dignity director Kate Roberts, and former Attorney General Andrew Ketterer. Roberts and Ketterer are known quantities; both are (or have been) high-profile public figures, and both fall towards the left of the political spectrum. Ashby is the dark horse of the bunch – at least to us – though Saxl’s staff assures us that he, like his fellow nominees, is a “judicious” fellow.