AUGUSTA — A state economic development program that costs Maine $12 million a year cannot be credited with creating any new jobs or achieving any of its desired outcomes, a legislative watchdog reported Wednesday. The Office of Program Evaluation and Government...
SCARBOROUGH — Horseracing fan Craig Varney had driven more than 100 miles from his home in Waldo to watch the opening day of Maine’s harness racing season at Scarborough Downs in late March. When he arrived, things didn’t look good. Plow trucks had pushed head-high...
AUGUSTA — There are too many variables to determine conclusively which Maine municipalities and counties spend the most per capita on lottery tickets and no evidence that the state’s $231 million lottery has targeted the poor in its marketing, a study released Friday...
Lawmakers from both parties question preliminary findings that show no evidence the state specifically targeted particular segments of the population in its marketing. The review comes after an investigation by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting that found lottery sales in Maine jump as unemployment increases.
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.
The Government Oversight Committee wants to know if “any particular demographic groups or regions of the state” are specifically targeted by the state lottery’s advertising, and “who has responsibility for overseeing those decisions.”
The Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability will also determine how winning a lottery prize may affect a person’s eligibility for public benefit programs.
Gov. Paul LePage said he believes the Maine State Lottery “absolutely” targets the state poor and that if legislators passed a bill to end the lottery, he would sign it immediately.
Reacting to an investigative series by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, the legislature’s Government Oversight Committee has voted unanimously to fast-track a study of the Maine State Lottery. Panel members are keen to learn if the Lottery’s advertising strategy specifically targets Maine’s poor.