LEWISTON – After more than a year of wrangling, the three political parties in the Legislature have agreed on a list of names to fill the open seat on the state’s ethics commission.

On Friday, lawmakers sent to the governor their recommendations for the post: Michael Friedman, an attorney with Rudman and Winchell in Bangor, Donald Miskill, a retired naval captain from Orr’s Island, and Philip Worden, a lawyer from Seal Cove.

It’s up to Gov. John Baldacci to pick from the three and send the nomination to the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee for hearings and then onto the full Senate for confirmation.

“This has taken longer than any of us expected,” said House Speaker John Richardson, who coordinated the effort to find three names. “We have been actively working on this for close to a year.”

Friedman and Miskill are not enrolled in a political party, and Worden is a Green Independent.

By law, no more than two members of the five-member Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices can be from the same political party. The current membership is split, with two Democrats and two Republicans.

Independent gubernatorial candidate John Michael of Auburn brought a wave of publicity to the open seat when he asked that his fight for public financing for his campaign be delayed until the fifth seat on the commission is filled.

In June, the ethics commission staff denied Michael’s attempt to be certified as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate and qualify for up to $1.2 million in public money for his campaign. He appealed the decision to the five-member panel. At the start of the appeals hearing Tuesday, Michael requested a delay until the open seat could be filed.

Given the current makeup of the commission, Michael said Tuesday, he didn’t think he could get a fair hearing.

“I think today I probably had nothing to lose,” Michael, a self-described conservative independent, said Tuesday. “I’m happy we have the chance to challenge the Legislature.”

Democratic ethics commissioner Andrew Ketterer agreed with Michael and supported the call for a delay.

“The issues are fundamental fairness and the public perception,” Ketterer said. “The request is a reasonable one.”

The panel voted 2-1 to grant Michael’s request.

The law dictating the nomination process caused the delay, Richardson said. Because the Democratic and Republican leadership in the House and Senate and Green Independent Rep. John Eder all had to sign off on the list of three names, which couldn’t include Democrats or Republicans, it was difficult to build a consensus.

Friedman is a native of Old Town. He graduated from the University of Maine and earned his law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. His law practice is in the area of labor and employment law, with a specialty in workers’ compensation.

Miskill is a retired naval officer with a master’s degree in international affairs. He’s a registered Maine Guide and an active volunteer in Harpswell.

Worden graduated from Boston University School of Law and has an active practice in Northeast Harbor. He has provided legal counsel to the Women’s Health Center and has represented protesters and environmentalists is a number of notable Maine cases.

“No matter which one is chosen by Gov. Baldacci, Maine will be well served,” said Senate President Beth Edmonds in a statement. “It will allow the commission to move forward on important matters, especially as pertains to upcoming campaigns.”

The nomination process could take several weeks to complete.

According to the governor’s office, interviews are scheduled with the three candidates for Monday and the governor anticipates making his nomination on Tuesday.

Once the governor has made his choice, the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee must provide two weeks notice before its public hearing on the nomination. The Senate also must schedule a day to convene to consider nominations by the governor, including the one for the ethics commission. As of Friday, no date had been set for the Senate to return to Augusta.

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