WATERVILLE — City Solicitor William A. Lee was confirmed unanimously Tuesday by the full Senate to serve on the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

Lee, 63, a senior partner in O’Donnell, Lee, McCowan and Phillips, of Waterville, has been city solicitor 19 years and is also legal counsel for both Winslow and Fairfield.

“I’m honored,” Lee said Tuesday of being chosen for the three-year appointment.

The five-member commission, which meets once a month, decides allegations or violations of election laws, which could include violation of clean election fund rules or statutes. The panel also adopts rules relating to election practices.

“The whole purpose of the commission is to ensure integrity of the electoral process, and I feel very strongly about that, and I think the state of Maine has a lot to be proud of,” Lee said. “We can be proud of the low level of corruption that exists with our elected officials and I’m very happy to be part of the process of ensuring that that continues.”

Lee, who will be confirmed in the next couple of days, will fill a spot vacated by Walter McKee, whose was term-limited out. Speaker of the House Mark Eves received letters of reference and qualifications of those interested in serving on the commission and submitted three names to Gov. Paul LePage, who selected Lee for the position — in effect, nominating him.

Waterville City Manager Michael Roy said Tuesday that he is pleased with Lee’s confirmation. Both Roy and Winslow Town Manager Michael Heavener testified on Lee’s behalf Friday before the Standing Committee.

“I’ve worked with Bill for 11 years now and I’ve never had any concern or doubt whatsoever about his commitment to very strong ethical and proper legal considerations,” Roy said Tuesday.

Roy said the example he used while testifying before the committee hearing is that government, whether local, state or federal, is not always clearly black and white — there’s not always clean, bright lines as to what may or may not be right or wrong within reasonable allowances of the law.

“Bill was always such an important source for me with those kinds of questions: Can we do this? Is it right to proceed as we’re doing?” Roy said. “I’ve always just felt so comfortable with having that source to go to for that kind of question, whether it be legal or ethical.”

Lee’s name then went to the Government Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs Friday for a confirmation hearing and the state Senate on Tuesday morning confirmed him for the spot. Lee attended the hearing, where he was asked to stand up and be recognized.

A Democrat, Lee joins two Republicans, a Democrat and an independent on the commission.

Lee has been an attorney 38 years and lives in Waterville with his wife, Linda. They have two grown daughters, Corinne and Andrea.

He grew up in New Hampshire and Florida and earned a bachelor’s in anthropology from Eckerd College before earning a J.D. degree from University of Florida. His first job after that was serving as tribal attorney for Colville Confederated Tribes, a large reservation in north central Washington state. He held that position five years.

The Lees moved to Waterville, where his wife had family, in 1982.

While city solicitor, Lee served as legal counsel to the city’s charter commissions, one of which was co-chaired by LePage when he was a city councilor many representing Ward 1.

Lee teaches government at Colby College. While teaching courses in comparative law there, Lee took groups of students to the Soviet Union and Cuba to study the legal process.

Lee has volunteered at the Evening Sandwich Program at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Waterville several years, serving meals, and is a member of the Board of Directors for Mid-Maine Global Forum. He also serves on the Executive Council for the Out of State Division of the Florida Bar.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

 


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