Sen. Cushing hit with $9,000 in fines, new ethics complaint

The Maine Ethics Commission yesterday levied $9,000 in fines against Sen. Andre Cushing, a Republican from Newport and the Assistant Senate Majority Leader. The penalties were assessed for a series of PAC filings from 2014 to 2016 where Cushing commingled business, personal and political expenses. They arose out of an investigation prompted by a lawsuit filed by Cushing’s sister, who claims he funneled money from family businesses into his own personal and campaign accounts.

Cushing’s revised revised finance reports also reveal other behavior that, while not in violation of the law, has drawn criticism, including using his PAC for cash withdrawals, credit card payments, and loans to his businesses and paying for legislative trips with PAC funds while also pocketing a reimbursement from the state.

“This $9,000 fine should be the beginning, not the end of the discussion about the GOP Assistant Senate Majority Leader’s conduct. Senator Cushing opposed campaign finance reform every step of the way, and now we see why — he’s been using his PAC as a personal slush fund,” said Maine Democratic Party Chair Phil Bartlett in response to the decision. “His long history of skirting or outright breaking campaign finance laws proves Senator Cushing fails to meet basic ethical standards. I call on Senate President Mike Thibodeau to hold this member of his caucus accountable and show that this type of unethical behavior does not warrant a seat in the Maine Senate.”

Democrats also allege that Cushing has committed an additional ethics violation. They submitted evidence that he was fundraising for his Political Action Committee, Respect Maine PAC, from lobbyists during the recent legislative session.

In addition to his leadership position in the Senate, Cushing serves as the state chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Sen. Cushing official photo.

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