AUGUSTA — Nearly a year after a state investigation found Maine Center for Disease Control supervisors ordered or ignored the destruction of public documents, a legislative committee will submit legislation to address ethics violations among state employees. 

The Government Oversight Committee voted unanimously Thursday to forward proposed legislation to the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. The proposal would affect executive branch officers and employees, including those who run state government’s biggest departments.

It calls for the state’s Department of Administrative and Financial Services to:

* Develop a consolidated code of ethics and conduct for state employees, along with any legislation required to implement that code.

* Establish ways for employees to seek guidance on ethical issues and to report ethics violations. 

* Develop ways to increase the awareness and accountability of state employees regarding ethics and conduct. 


* Submit a status report to the Government Oversight Committee by next September.    

The proposed legislation will now go to the Revisor’s Office, which will format it as draft legislation. It will later be referred to a legislative committee for consideration. 

The proposal comes 11 months after the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, known as OPEGA, found a host of problems with the way the state CDC distributed millions of dollars to Healthy Maine Partnerships programs in 2012.

Sharon Leahy-Lind, then-director of the CDC’s Division of Local Public Health, had claimed her bosses at the CDC told her to shred public documents related to grant funding for the program. When she raised the issue with superiors, she said, she was harassed and intimidated while nothing was done about the order to destroy documents.

OPEGA’s findings supported a number of her claims. OPEGA also found that funding scores had been changed at the last minute, giving more money to one Healthy Maine Partnership that had previously scored too low to deserve the bump in funding. The documents that were ordered destroyed related to that scoring change.  

In March, the Government Oversight Committee publicly questioned the six current and former state employees at the heart of the document-shredding probe. The CDC deputy director admitted telling employees to destroy public documents. She said she routinely got rid of working documents and didn’t know there was anything wrong with that. 


Government Oversight Committee members have spent months discussing ways to ensure such an ethics breach doesn’t happen again.

On Thursday, committee members briefly discussed ways to fold legislative branch employees into the proposed legislation. But on the advice of OPEGA Director Beth Ashcroft, they decided it would be too difficult to cover both branches of government with one piece of legislation.

“Let’s solve that when (the Department of Administrative and Financial Services) reports back,” said state Sen. Christopher Johnson, D-Lincoln, co-chairman of the committee. 

The Government Oversight Committee also plans to consider submitting legislation to ensure rules governing grant distributions are clear.

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