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Home > Guide to Political Activity > Independent Expenditures

Independent Expenditures

An independent expenditure is defined in the Maine Election Law (21-A M.R.S.A. § 1019-B) to mean any expenditure for a communication (e.g., palm cards, newspaper or other media advertisements, phone banks, etc.) that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate.

In addition, payments or obligations made to design, produce or disseminate a communication are presumed to be independent expenditures if the communication 1) is disseminated within 21 days before a primary election or within 35 days before the general election, 2) names or depicts a clearly identified candidate, and 3) involves a race in which a Maine Clean Election Act certified candidate is running. 

Certain expenditures do not constitute independent expenditures:

  • An expenditure made by a person in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, a candidate's political committee or their agents;
  • A telephone survey that meets generally accepted standards for polling research and that is not conducted for the purpose of changing the voting position of the call recipients or discouraging them from voting;
  • A telephone call naming a clearly identified candidate that identifies an individual's position on a candidate, ballot question or political party for the purpose of encouraging the individual to vote, as long as the call contains no advocacy for or against any candidate; and
  • A voter guide that consists primarily of candidates' responses to surveys and questionnaires and that contains no advocacy for or against any candidate.

Anyone who makes independent expenditures aggregating more than $100 per candidate must file an Independent Expenditure Report.

For more information about independent expenditures, please see Advice Regarding Independent Expenditures for the 2012 Elections.