AUGUSTA — A state representative from Alfred could learn the fate of his seat in the House of Representatives by the end of this month, said House Speaker Robert Nutting.

Rep. David Burns, R-Alfred, already should have been asked to resign, according to Democrats.

Burns is the subject of an attorney general’s investigation that began last month after a state ethics panel found that that he violated multiple election finance laws when running for state representative.

Those findings this week cost Burns his seat on the Alfred Board of Selectmen. Burns resigned from the three-member board on Tuesday after the ethics case generated questions and criticism from residents of the town.

Burns was back at work in the State House on Thursday morning. He declined to comment for this story, citing his attorney’s advice.

Assistant House Majority Leader Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, said the GOP leadership is waiting for a report from the attorney general’s office about potential criminal violations before deciding whether to take any action or remove Burns from his House seat.

“It’s up to him” at this point, Cushing said. “We’re not in a posture where we will take any action until we know what the courts would say.”

Nutting, R-Oakland, also has said that Burns remains a member in good standing, at least until the attorney general reports back. Nutting said he expects to receive a legal opinion by the end of the month.

House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, said Republicans should have asked Burns to step down weeks ago.

“If he was (a Democrat) I would have asked him to resign” immediately after the ethics commission report, Cain said. If he didn’t resign, Cain said, she would have referred the matter to the Legislature’s ethics committee for action.

Cain said lawmakers should be held to a higher standard than whether they have been charged with a crime.

The state ethics commission, which does not have criminal authority, found in November that Burns committed seven violations of the state law that governs use of Clean Election Act money. Among them: transferring public campaign money into his personal bank account, using the money for personal expenses and giving false documents to investigators.

Commission Chairman Walter McKee said he found it mind-boggling that Burns had turned in false documents.

The attorney general’s office said Thursday that the criminal investigation continues.

John Richardson — [email protected]


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