Financial disclosure requirement for Acadia advisory panel explained

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The Islander reported last week that Ben Emory of Bar Harbor had resigned from the Acadia Advisory Commission, saying it would take too much time and effort to fill out the detailed federal financial disclosure report required by the Department of the Interior.

Ten of the 16 commission members are appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior on the recommendation of officials of towns around Acadia. Three members are appointed by the secretary on the recommendation of the governor of Maine. The secretary also appoints three “at-large” members.

The Islander asked park officials why only the three at-large members are now required to file a financial disclosure report each year.

The answer, according to the National Park Service Office (NPS) of Communications, is that at-large members are considered “special government employees” — even though they are volunteers and receive no compensation — while the other members are considered “representatives.”

The representatives are expected to provide “points of view of nongovernment entities, such as an industry sector, labor unions, environmental groups, localities, etc.,” an NPS communications officer said in an email to Christie Anastasia, Acadia’s public affairs specialist.

“Since … they are not government employees, they are not subject to the ethics laws and rules.”

The at-large members of the Advisory Commission are subject to those laws and rules, including the requirement to file an annual financial disclosure report, because they are appointed “to exercise their own individual best judgment on behalf of the government.”

The Advisory Commission has no decision-making authority. Its role is to serve as liaison between Acadia officials and its neighboring communities and to offer advice on park operations and projects.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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