AUGUSTA — The Maine Ethics Commission is poised to release findings this month in its investigation of Senate Assistant Majority Leader Andre Cushing and a complaint by his sister that he improperly transferred money between a political action committee he controlled and his campaign, personal and business accounts.

The commission, which oversees Maine campaign finance laws, is due to take up its case against the Newport Republican on Aug. 30 and could vote on whether to exonerate or issue a fine or other penalty against him.

Cushing’s sister, Laura Cushing McIntyre of Hermon, filed a complaint in October 2016 that prompted the commission to investigate the allegations. McIntyre also has filed a lawsuit against Cushing, his wife and his adult children in Penobscot Superior Court over the alleged transfer of more than $1 million from a family business to his personal and campaign accounts. That suit is pending, Walter McKee, McIntyre’s Augusta-based attorney, said in an email Friday.

Cushing has denied any wrongdoing in either case. Cushing and his attorney, former Republican lawmaker Joshua Tardy, did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

The lawsuit, also filed last October, claims Cushing misappropriated money from The Cushing Family Corporation with unapproved loans, real estate commissions and other transfers to himself or business entities in which he held an interest. McIntyre is seeking punitive damages and her share of the misappropriated money.

Although the civil suit and the commission’s investigation both deal with the transfer of funds between Cushing’s private accounts and his political ones, the proceedings are not connected. Jonathan Wayne, the ethics commission executive director, has said the outcome of the civil case has no bearing on the commission’s findings.

McIntyre, who owns 11 percent of the shares in The Cushing Family Corporation, alleges in her suit that her property was improperly diverted by Cushing and allied family members into their own companies or bank accounts. Between 1999 and the end of 2014 – a period when many of the allegedly improper transfers took place – she claims the value of the corporation’s stock portfolio went from more than $1.4 million to just $16,751.

Among the alleged improprieties: Nearly $500,000 was given, without board approval, to New England Forest Products, a company allegedly controlled by Cushing, between August 2008 and the end of June 2009. When, at Cushing’s request, the family corporation purchased half of the forest product company’s shares from another investor three months later, the $483,000 “was gone and unaccounted for,” the complaint says.

At a commission meeting Thursday, Wayne told the five-member panel that its staff had completed the investigation and presented the findings to Cushing, who is preparing a response.

Wayne told the Press Herald that the findings, currently in draft form, are confidential under state law until Cushing provides his response. Wayne said the findings would be released to commissioners and the public on Aug. 22.

He said he expected Cushing will attend the Aug. 30 meeting, and the commission may make a decision that day.

The commission’s findings could have bearing on a complaint against Cushing before the state Senate’s Ethics Committee, brought by former state Sens. Justin Alfond, D-Portland and John Patrick, D-Rumford.

Patrick and Alfond claimed Cushing had double-dipped on his legislative expense reports in 2015 for travel to a summit meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Seattle. Cushing paid for some of the trip from his political action committee and then also requested and was paid a $1,796 reimbursement for the same trip by the secretary of the Senate, according to state documents.

The Senate’s Ethics Committee postponed acting on the Cushing complaint, saying it wanted to allow the Ethics Commission to complete its investigation first.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

[email protected]

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