AGO 87-05.

Case Date:March 03, 1987
Maine Attorney General Opinions 1987. AGO 87-05. State of Maine Opinion No. 87-5March 3, 1987Honorable Thomas W. MurphyMinority Leader Maine House of Representatives State House Station #2 Augusta, Maine 04333Dear Representative Murphy: You have inquired of this office whether a conflict of interest would arise by the assumption of the office of State Auditor by Mr. Rodney L. Scribner, the past Commissioner of Finance. For the reasons which follow, it is the Opinion of this Department that there is no legal impediment to Mr. Scribner's assuming his new office. The question which you raise arises because, pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. s 244, the State Auditor is required to: conduct a continuous post-audit of the accounts, books, records and other evidences of financial transactions kept in the Department of Finance and Administration or any other departments and agencies of the State Government. He shall prepare and publish a report for each fiscal year, setting forth the essential facts of such audit in summary form, within the following fiscal year after the books of the State Controller have been officially closed. If he shall find in the course of his audit evidences of improper transactions, or of incompetence in keeping accounts or handling funds or of any other improper practice of financial information, he shall report the same to the Governor and the Legislature immediately. If he shall find evidences of illegal transactions, he shall forthwith report such transactions both to the Governor and to the Attorney General. In his new capacity as State Auditor, Mr Scribner would be required to undertake an audit of the financial records of the Department of Finance for the current fiscal year. For the first seven months of that period, Mr. Scribner was the Commissioner of that department. Consequently, you have inquired whether there is any conflict of interest or other illegality raised by this situation. It should first be noted that the question you raise does not involve one of so-called "incompatible offices." That common law doctrine, under which a public official is prohibited from occupying two offices where the discharge of one has an inevitable effect on the discharge of the other, applies only when the person in question proposes to hold two public offices simultaneously. Opinion of the Justices, 330 A.2d...

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