AUGUSTA — A legislative committee will hold a public hearing early next month on a bill to address ethics violations among state employees in the wake of document destruction at the Maine Center for Disease Control. 

The Government Oversight Committee voted in November to submit the legislation. That came nearly a year after a state investigation found CDC supervisors ordered or ignored the destruction of public documents.

The bill affects executive branch officers and employees, including those who run the biggest departments in state government. The bill calls for the development of, among other things, a consolidated code of ethics and conduct for state workers, ways for state workers to seek guidance on ethical issues and to report ethics violations, and ways to increase awareness of and accountability for ethics and conduct among employees.

The public hearing before the State and Local Government Committee will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, in Augusta.

Government Oversight Committee Co-chairman Roger Katz, R-Augusta, said during Friday’s meeting that he and fellow Co-chairman Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston, plan to attend the public hearing to support the bill. Other committee members also might attend. 

“Obviously, the more support the better,” Katz said.


The bill is one of a number of responses to the document-shredding probe of the Maine Center for Disease Control. In March, the Government Oversight Committee is expected to hear from a working group established by the Maine Attorney General’s Office and the Maine State Archives to look at ways to strengthen the state’s records retention policies.

The committee also might submit a bill to ensure grant distribution rules are clear. That’s because the CDC documents in question were part of a public health grant-funding program that went wrong. One document, which is still missing, proved that final scores for Healthy Maine Partnerships organizations were changed, resulting in taxpayer money being sent to an organization that had come in second place originally but was favored by CDC officials.

Such funding went against the formal grant process normally used by state departments. CDC leaders said they went with their atypical grant process because they were short of time.

Last year, Attorney General Janet Mills asked Kennebec County Deputy District Attorney Fernand LaRochelle to look into whether civil or criminal charges should be filed against people involved in the case. In a letter to Mills last month, LaRochelle said he could not prove that the official who “directed” the destruction knew she was doing something wrong.

And since the competitive grant process set up by CDC officials was atypical, he said, it was unclear whether the normal rules applied. There was not enough state or department guidance to clarify that such documents should have been kept, he said.

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