Photo by: AlexiusHoratius [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons LD 1750: A study in how special interests get their way in the Maine legislature The industrial wind lobby was not happy. Its plans to keep building hundreds of wind turbines in rural Maine...
AUGUSTA — They are bus drivers, fishermen, lawyers and cooks. The members of the 128th Maine Legislature — a “citizen legislature” in the truest definition of the term — come from backgrounds as varied and interesting as the state itself. To help Maine citizens...
The Maine Ethics Commission has fined losing Senate candidate Rep. Diane Russell $500 for failing to disclose her contribution to her Senate campaign of a valuable email list, closing the books on a series of ethics complaints generated by the recent Portland Democratic Senate primary. But the complaints — two against Russell and one against primary winner Rep. Ben Chipman — may end up having a broader effect on Maine campaign-finance law and how elections are run.
A Portland resident has filed a complaint with the state ethics commission alleging that the PAC controlled by Diane Russell, a candidate for the state senate and a current member of the House, may have made fraudulent campaign finance filings. “If people know the right questions to ask then the voters can be more informed,” said Michael Hiltz, who filed the ethics complaint against the PAC controlled by Russell.
Since 2013, Rep. Diane Russell’s “Working Families PAC” paid her a total of $7,747 of its total expenditures of $39,583. Unlike other so-called leadership PACs, where most of the money raised goes to support fellow party members’ electoral ambitions, Russell’s PAC gave only $1,550 in contributions to Democratic candidates or organizations.
Wealthy donors from across the country have sent nearly $100,000 to the Maine Democratic Party as part of a coordinated fundraising program called the Hillary Victory Fund. But not all of that money is staying in the state: 40 percent of it has already been transferred to the Democratic National Committee.
Once a year, we take our inspiration from the clever folks at Harper’s Magazine, and produce, as they do, an index of “ironic statistics arranged for thoughtful effect.”
Our index, written by Editor-in-Chief John Christie, is drawn from the stories we published in the past year.
The year’s frenetic events in Maine’s statehouse mark a turn towards increasingly incendiary, winner-take-all politics. But the histrionics also underscore a more insidious problem: Maine’s weak accountability and transparency laws aren’t keeping up with the new pace of politics here, and lawmakers are doing little to change course.
This dynamic has earned Maine an F and a numerical score of 59, placing it tied for 42nd among the states in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of state government accountability and transparency conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity.
LePage killed ethics reform bill that would bar legislators from paying themselves, family members with PAC money
A bill that would have tightened up regulations that allowed a Sanford legislator to pay himself and family members from a political action committee (PAC) he controlled was killed in late June by a veto by Gov. Paul LePage, which the Maine Senate failed to override.
Gov. Paul LePage reversed a routine and state-approved payment to a Fairfield non-profit that operates a charter school the day it was announced that Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves was named president of the organization, according to a source inside state government.
A confidential source in the state Department of Education (DOE) said that, the day Eves’ appointment became public, a top official of the state DOE was called to the governor’s office “for an impromptu meeting.”