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October 27, 2009

AG says no to TABOR probe

Maine's attorney general is rejecting a request by TABOR supporters to launch an investigation into two Maine lawmakers accused of violating Maine law.

Yesterday, TABOR NOW, the group pushing for voters to approve Question 4 on the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, asked Attorney General Janet Mills to conduct a criminal investigation of the offices of House Speaker Hannah Pingree and Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, saying they used taxpayer money and legislative staff time to fight the TABOR referendum question, as well as Question 2 on auto excise tax. But Mills said the group has not provided enough evidence to support an investigation, according to the Kennebec Journal. "We do not initiate investigations in this office unless and until there's a threshold of something to investigate," she told the paper. "There's absolutely no suggestion there's any criminal activity."

Tarren Bragdon, executive director of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, which wrote the TABOR legislation, told the paper he was surprised at the dismissal, and that the think tank would ask the state ethics commission to investigate.

At the center of the controversy is an Aug. 12 meeting in Pingree's State House office for transportation, construction and engineering interests, where the TABOR group says money was raised for an anti-TABOR campaign. Both Mitchell and Pingree have rejected the claims, according to Maine Public Broadcasting Network. Pingree told MPBN the charges were politically motivated and "as they're about to be lagging in the polls, I think it's really just a desperate attempt to divert the public's attention."

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