Suzanne and Al discuss Maine's Clean Elections system with Andrew Bossie, executive director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections.
Last week, Maine's Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee voted along party lines to strip out the matching funds provision of the Maine Clean Election Act without replacing it with one of several proposed alternative provisions, virtually gutting the act.
You can sign an MPA petition in favor of clean elections in Maine here.
In case you missed it, Lawrence Lessig's excellent presentation from the Maine Citizens for Clean Elections event celebrating 10 years of clean elections in Maine:
Here's the full letter sent from the Maine Ethics Commission staff to John Richardson detailing the investigation and subsequent rejection of his application for MCEA funding:
Richardson is officially out. His full announcement, sent moments ago by email, is below the jump.
Highlights include the fact that Richardson says the campaign discovered some of the irregularities and reported them to the commission staff themselves and that the disqualified contributions left them 80 short.
Richardson says he never considered switching to private financing (not that he would have had time) and that "this decision, while very painful, does not, and will not alter my faith in Clean Elections and my conviction about how important it is to our state." Read more »
Richardson To Shutter Campaign
John Richardson has scheduled an 11am press conference in Brunswick today and all signs point to him using it to end his campaign for the Blaine House.
The Bangor Daily News and Mal Leary today confirmed that Richardson failed to qualify for Clean Elections funding due to fraudulent contributions. Their article gives some interesting details about the process and investigation.
Richardson's exit will bring the Democratic field down to four candidates and ensure the sufficiency of the Clean Elections fund.
Some questions will remain after today's announcement, such as whether employees of Richardson's campaign will face prosecution and who close to the Attorney General leaked information about the investigation to blogger Matt Gagnon.
The Ethics Commission meets this Thursday in Augusta.
A Change at the Top for Mitchell
A press release from the Mitchell campaign last week was signed by a new campaign manager, Jeremy Kennedy.
According to former campaign manager Marc Malon, the switch was long scheduled:
This was the plan for a while; I managed the campaign through the end of the qualifying period, then we had the opportunity to bring on someone with more experience (Jeremy Kennedy) for the final push in the primary. I'm still working for the campaign as hard as ever, focusing more intently on York County, my home (I live in Biddeford) which I believe will play a crucial role.
Kennedy has recently worked as a Regional Field Organizer for the Human Rights Campaign and for No on 1.
Independents on the Ballot
Eliot Cutler has submitted the 4,000 signatures necessary to make the November ballot, as has Shawn Moody, owner of Moody's Collision Centers. Moody has not yet filed his candidate registration forms and his signature campaign flew almost entirely under the radar.
Matthew Gagnon claims to have a source close to the Attorney General who says that John Richardson has been denied clean elections funding and that some of his signature gatherers are being investigated for fraud.
Gagnon also has a bit of a chip on his shoulder for "a sneering political reporter from one of Maine’s largest daily newspapers."
The situation is a bit muddled, but according to A.J. Higgins' late-breaking report yesterday, the Ethics Commission is questioning a number of Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Richardson's qualifying contributions and is giving him some finite amount of time to take steps to prove their legitimacy.
No other coverage of this that I've seen as yet. If Richardson fails to qualify his campaign is essentially dead in the water. Even the current delay in receiving a clean elections disbursement is likely detrimental to his chances in June.
The Libby Mitchell campaign has now collected the 3,250 $5 contributions necessary to qualify for clean elections funding, according to a post by campaign manager Marc Malon on Dirigo Blue.
Mitchell becomes the second candidate and the first Democrat to hit this milestone. Both the McGowan and Richardson campaigns say they're on track to qualify before Thursday's deadline.
Richardson has also released a new web video about his work to get the Washburn and Doughty Shipyard back on their feet after a 2008 fire.
It's a powerful story, but is crying out for an innapropriate remix.
Republican Peter Mills today became the first gubernatorial candidate to claim to have met the requirements to run a publicly financed campaign under Maine's clean election system.
In a recent Sun Journal article, Mills said the main hurdle to qualifying as a clean elections candidate was not raising $40,000 in $100 seed money contributions, but collecting the 3,250 $5 contributions now required by the law.
Apparently, few of Mills' contributions came through the state website. The vast majority were instead gathered through the canvassing efforts of his team of "dozens and dozens" of volunteers.
Full announcement after the jump. Read more »
Because there will be no publicly-funded Green candidate in the general, the clean elections fund should now remain solvent throughout the election.
According to calculations done by the Ethics Commission staff, even if all four candidates (McGowan, Mitchell, Richardson and Mills) likely to qualify do so, each receives the maximum disbursement of matching funds, and Mills and one of the Democrats go on to the general election and receive the maximum there, the fund will still have a small surplus.
Here's a scenario they proposed which is similar (but not identical) to the largest outlay of money that we could now see.
Under this scenario, the fund would still have an estimated $230,832 left (minus $200,000 if you replace the "other candidate" with a Democrat and if the Republican makes it to the general).
The candidates running clean now have one less thing to worry about.
Update: After a chat with Jonathan Wayne at the Ethics Commission, I realize that there's still a chance the fund could be exhausted. Changing the presented scenario to have four candidates running in the primary, all with maximum disbursements, would increase the cost by $400,000, not the $200,000 I wrote above, and would put the fund a bit into the red.
This however, is not a very likely scenario.
The probable response by the commission to such a series of events going into the general election, according to Wayne, would be for the two candidates to receive their full initial funds and be informed that they could raise a relatively small amount of money in private contributions to make up for any potential shortfall in matching funds. If the third, privately-funded candidate in the race (or independent candidate-supporting groups) spent enough to exhaust all matching funds, the candidates could then spend the money they had raised.