"Finally, we can turn the page on one of the sorriest chapters in Maine's mostly proud political history", said the editorial page of the Maine Sunday Telegram on January 30, in a sharply worded editorial condemning a violation of state campaign finance laws.
Reading only that, one might reasonably conclude that the editors were speaking of the actions of the Republican State Leadership Committee. Eleven days before the election last November, the Alexandria, Virginia based RSLC spent $400,000 on TV, radio and mail in opposition to five Democratic State Senate Candidates. More importantly, the RSLC violated state law by failing to report these expenditures on time. All five of their targets were using Maine Clean Elections Act funds, and were deprived of timely matching funding to respond to the attacks. All five were defeated.
Such a sizable late expenditure that fails to comply with Maine’s excellent system of campaign finance reporting is indeed alarming and worthy of strong condemnation.
Sadly, that’s not what the Telegram was doing. No, they were putting-in what we can only hope is the final word on the dreaded "Cutler Files": the website critical of Eliot Cutler, created by Dennis Bailey and Thom Rhoads. Read more »
In response to a Freedom of Access request from several journalists, the Maine Ethics Commission has just released a stack of documents related to their investigation into the Cutler Files website, including memos sent from staff to commissioners and hand-written notes from interviews conducted with a wide range of political figures.
In sending the information, Commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne cautioned against releasing the documents widely due to "the risk that people will misinterpret them for political motivations or simply for the pleasure of taking a shot at a public figure or political party."
He also added a caveat to the content of an investigative memo sent to the Commissioners.
[I]n the October 17 investigative memo to the Commissioners, I included a working theory concerning the Cutler Files website (pages 2-3 of the memo). At the time I wrote the memo, Dennis Bailey and Thom Rhoads declined to be interviewed in depth, so the memo necessarily contained some speculation which was so noted for the Commissioners. Having completed the investigation, I would say now that my description may have overstated the involvement of the Scarcelli campaign in the research that Thom Rhoads conducted at home. So, please be aware of that as you read the October 17 memo.
Former Maine gubernatorial candidate and prospective Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rosa Scarcelli has been caught lying about her knowledge of her husband's involvement in the Cutler Files website controversy. MPBN's AJ Higgins has it all on tape, although he doesn't explicitly connect the dots for his listeners.
In the interview, Ms. Scarcelli says she knew her husband, Thomas Rhoads, had "done some Google" on Culter, but that she didn't learn of his involvement in the Cutler Files website until shortly after Labor Day and, as she says, prior to the Ethics Commission investigation, which officially went forward Oct. 20.
Read more »
Both Thom Rhoads and Rosa Scarcelli today released statements detailing their involvement or lack-thereof in the Cutler Files website. At Down East, I provide some context.
With the Ethics Commission having finished their investigation and the authors having fully outed themselves, this may be the last thing I ever write about the Cutler Files, a website whose authorship and legal standing got a lot more attention than its content.