AUGUSTA – Don’t expect any scandal involving the possibility of Maine’s governor improperly accepting gifts.

In fact, Gov. John Baldacci has declared in state documents that he hasn’t accepted any personal gifts worth more than $300 while serving as head of state.

Connecticut’s John Rowland resigned his office earlier this week amid bribery allegations and revelations that he was showered with personal gifts during his three terms as governor.

An assistant attorney general said she is not aware of anything similar in Maine.

“As least as far as we know, it doesn’t seem to be a problem in this state at this time,” said Leanne Robbin, a Maine assistant attorney general who heads the financial crimes division.

Maine law does not require that this state’s governor report personal gifts. But Baldacci and former Gov. Angus King before him, filled out the forms anyway, said an official at the secretary of state’s office.

Maine law states that gifts given to executive employees fall into two categories: those intended for the person and those intended for the state.

All of those employees, including constitutional officers and anyone who serves in a “major policy-influencing position,” must fill out financial disclosure forms each year noting any gifts they receive, according to the law. Any gifts valued at more than $300, or gifts totaling that amount in a year, are subject to reporting. Members of the Legislature are required to file similar disclosures with the Ethics Commission.

Baldacci filed the public disclosure April 5, writing “none” in the box where employees are asked to “list the specific source of each gift received.”

Of the 163 employees who filed disclosure forms with the secretary of state’s office, only two reported receiving any gift. Both noted getting a single gift of a food.

One Maine official, a deputy commissioner at the Department of Environmental Protection, said his law firm gave him the basket before he started working for the state. The other official said his fruit basket was an honorarium from the Telephone Association in exchange for a speech.

Kurt Adams, chief counsel to the governor, said his office issued a memo to all executive employees after Baldacci took office, explaining the laws that apply.

Bequests or personal inheritance or presents from family members do not have to be reported, the memo states. Besides personal gifts, those given to the state are allowed, but can only be accepted by the governor if their value exceeds $50, unless specifically allowed by the law or by the governor.

Two Maine criminal laws prohibit bribery and influence peddling, or taking anything of monetary value in exchange for the influence of that employee’s political position. One is a felony, the other a misdemeanor.

Adams said he advises executive employees to look beyond the law when considering whether to accept a gift from a member of the public and to evaluate the possible appearance of impropriety.

“The appearance test is what we rely on more heavily around here, and that shouldn’t surprise you because it’s a political office,” he said.

Robbin said she is not aware of any cases of state employees receiving improper gifts or taking bribes in the past several decades. She does know of cases at the municipal level, including one about six years ago involving a Portland police officer who received jail time for agreeing to fix an OUI, she said.

Robbin said she did not know why the governor would be exempt from the financial disclosure law.



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