AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Senate approved dozens of nominations by Gov. John Baldacci to Cabinet and judicial posts as well as numerous boards and commissions, pausing for debate only briefly Wednesday on the appointment of Kurt Adams to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees.

Winning unanimous confirmation votes were Ellen Schneiter of Readfield as commissioner of the department that oversees state finances and taxes, and Angela Faherty as education commissioner.

Senators voted to elevate three District Court judges — Ann Murray of Bangor, MaryGay Kennedy of Brunswick and Robert Murray Jr. of Bangor — to the Superior Court bench. And David Littell, who’s been state environmental commissioner for five years, won confirmation for one of the three seats on the Public Utilities Commission.

About 75 Baldacci appointees whose names came up for final votes had been widely expected to win confirmation, given their strong votes of support from review committees. A two-thirds Senate vote is needed to override a committee recommendation, and for most nominees there wasn’t a single vote to do so.

In Adams’ case, only 10 of the 31 senators present voted to overturn a committee recommendation to confirm him for the UMaine post. The committee voted 7-3 after questions were raised about whether terms of his employment with the First Wind energy company when he left his Public Utilities Commission chairmanship in 2008 constituted a conflict.

Adams left his PUC post to avoid a potential conflict as the commission reviewed a Central Maine Power Co. plan for new transmission line routes. The lines were to go near his home in Yarmouth.

While Adams sought his attorney’s advice on avoiding a conflict, some senators said he had not demonstrated that he was above even an appearance of conflict.

“His answers (to the Education Committee) were not adequate,” said Sen. Carol Weston, R-Montville. Another Republican, Sen. Gerald Davis of Falmouth, said, “If this isn’t a clear conflict of interest, then I don’t know what is.”

But Democratic senators defended Adams’ integrity and record of public service. The Education Committee had seen “incredibly strong evidence of Mr. Adams’ integrity,” said Sen. Elizabeth Schneider of Orono.


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