March 30, 2023

Maine Ethics Commission Wants Transparency to End Bear Baiting

In reading an article in the Bangor Daily News, the article attempts to report that the Maine Ethics Commission wants more “transparency” when it comes to efforts by any government agency in the state participating in political activities. At issue here is the backlash from a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), in the middle of a campaign to end bear hunting, to try to stop the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) from participating against the referendum.

The result of the lawsuit was that it was legal for MDIFW to do what they were doing. However, the Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, a fake coalition that was comprised only of HSUS members, asked the Maine Ethics Commission to investigate. And so they did but didn’t have to.

The Ethics Commission is trying very hard here to paint themselves as investing the “ethics” of actions by the MDIFW because they did not disclose all associated costs of the campaign to the liking of the commission. But from what is written in this article, I have serious doubts that the Commission is all that interested in transparency as they are about ending the practice of allowing any government representative to participate in such future campaigns.

It seems really stupid to prohibit government departments, as a form and function of the greater administration, to silence their position on political events such as was the case with the bear referendum. Don’t the people want to know where an administration stands in such matters? One might understand the request that the MDIFW reveal all associated costs to participate in this campaign, under the laws of the state. The appearance of trying to hide something gets us into the function of an ethics panel. However, it seems to me the Ethics Commission is taking on the role of strong-arming the MDIFW by proposing legislation that would prohibit the practice of participation. This goes beyond any kind of transparency request about funding and delves into issues in which one would have to wonder if the Ethics Commission needs an ethics commission to investigate what they are doing.

It certainly appears to me that in a 4-1 vote, the commission is more interested in ending bear hunting during the next useless anti-human bear referendum that comes up, than anything much related to transparency.