- Associated Press - Thursday, May 11, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s pick for public advocate sailed through a key committee vote without any discussion of an arrest for drunken driving.

The Energy and Utilities Committee was aware of Barry Hobbins‘ arrest, but members didn’t discuss it before unanimously approving his nomination Tuesday. Hobbins was sentenced to probation following his November arrest, according to court officials in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

A drunken-driving arrest led to the resignation of the acting director of the Maine State Planning Office in 2012, but the governor’s office continues to back Hobbins.

A spokesman for the governor told the Portland Press Herald he’s not concerned about the arrest. The Democratic co-chairman of the committee also said it’s irrelevant to the job.

Hobbins, who didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, was nominated by LePage to represent the interests of Maine’s utility ratepayers. If confirmed by the Maine Senate, the former Democratic lawmaker and lobbyist would succeed Tim Schneider, whose term has expired.

The position has an annual salary of roughly $119,000, plus a benefits package worth about $18,000.

Details of the arrest were not immediately available. The Associated Press submitted a request for an Amesbury police report of his November arrest.

The arrest was first reported by the newspaper.

Hobbins‘ case was resolved through a deal in which the case was continued without a finding of guilt after he acknowledged there was enough evidence to support a conviction, officials said. If he adheres to terms of probation, then the charges could be dismissed.

There are no other records of a drunken driving charge against 65-year-old Hobbins, but he’s been cited for speeding several times and has been involved in nine accidents over the decades, according to records kept by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

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