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Present: Walter F. McKee, Esq., Chair; André G. Duchette, Esq.; Hon. Edward M. Youngblood; Margaret E. Matheson, Esq., Michael T. Healy, Esq.
1. Ratification of Minutes of the October 28 and December 20, 2010 Meetings
Motion: To adopt the minutes as written.
Mr. Wayne explained that the RSLC’s independent expenditure report (#142) included a total of $398,970 in expenditures made for three types of communications (mailings, television and radio advertisements) directed at voters in five State Senate districts in Maine. On October 27, 2010, the Maine Democratic Party filed a complaint alleging that the report was late. The staff notified the RSLC of possible penalties totaling $41,000 and invited the RSLC to respond, including by requesting a waiver of the penalties. On February 14, after reviewing the response from RSLC’s counsel, Daniel Riley, Esq., the Commission staff revised the penalty recommendation to $26,000.
Motion: That the Commission accept the staff recommendation and access a penalty of $26,000.
Mr. Wayne explained that on January 3, 2011, Thomas Valleau requested that the Ethics Commission investigate whether the Portland Press Herald newspaper was required in late 2010 to register and file campaign finance reports as a ballot question committee with the Portland City Clerk. During the week leading up to the November 2, 2010 election, the Press Herald allowed the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce to run a number of full-page advertisements in support of a Portland referendum on mayoral election. The Press Herald responded that it is exempt from Maine’s campaign finance disclosure laws and its purpose in providing the ad space was not to influence the election.
Motion: That the Commission accept the staff recommendation and find no violation had occurred.
The Commissioners considered a draft letter by the Commission staff concerning the issue of leadership political action committees.
The Commissioners approved the letter as drafted.
The Commission’s auditor completed the audit of Pamela Trinward’s 2010 House campaign, which she terminated after deciding to replace a withdrawing candidate for the State Senate. No exceptions (violations) were found.
No action required.
In a 2009 law, the Maine Legislature required the Commission to adjust the $350 and $750 contribution limits every two years based on the rate of inflation. The Commission’s auditor has determined that no adjustment to the contribution limits should be made at this time, based on the low rate of inflation. The current limits of $350 and $750 will continue to be in effect for elections in 2011 and 2012. The Commission will next consider whether any adjustment is necessary in December 2012.
No action required.
Mr. Wayne explained that the United States Supreme Court will be considering the constitutionality of the matching funds component of Arizona’s clean election program. Under Maine’s clean election program, matching funds are handled in a fashion very similar to Arizona’s program. Several other states are joining together as friends of the court to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court and Maine has been invited to join with the other states. The decision to join is up to the Attorney General. The Commission discussed whether it should request the Attorney General to join the amicus brief with the other states.
Motion: That the Commission request the Attorney General join the amicus brief.
Request for Investigation of Senate Candidate Roger Katz by Joseph and Michele Greenier
No action taken.
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