After weeks of debate regarding Darryl Brown’s eligibility to serve as the commissioner of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection, on April 27 Attorney General William Schneider issued a letter stating that Brown was likely unqualified to serve in the position under Maine law. Following that announcement, Brown resigned.
CLF and others voiced their concerns about a potential conflict of interest that would affect Brown’s ability to continue serving in the post in the months following his appointment in February. Maine law states that anyone who has received at least 10 percent of their income over the past two years from work for clients under the Clean Water Act is ineligible to serve as DEP commissioner. Brown is the founder and sole shareholder of Main-Land Development Consultants, an engineering and land-use planning firm, and had originally stated at his confirmation hearing in January that between 25 and 35 percent of his firm’s work fell into that category, but later insisted that he did not exceed the 10 percent threshold. Schneider’s letter stated that if Brown couldn’t produce documents demonstrating that his income did not exceed the 10 percent threshold, he would be ineligible for the position. The Attorney General also made clear that any such documents submitted by Brown would be subject to Maine’s Freedom of Access Act. Claiming that the potential release of documents could potentially hurt his business, Brown’s attorney had sought assurances that the documents would not be released. Brown’s resignation followed shortly after the Attorney General’s letter was released.
Brown’s resignation must have been anticipated by the LePage Administration, which immediately announced that Brown would become the director of the State Planning Office, which LePage has previously indicated he intends to do away with by 2012. Jim Brooks, currently the director of the DEP’s Bureau of Air Quality, will serve as acting DEP commissioner.
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