March 6, 2019 Commission Meeting

Location: Commission Office, 45 Memorial Circle, 2nd Floor, Augusta, Maine

Present were: William A. Lee III, Esq.; Meri N. Lowry; Hon. Richard A. Nass; and Bradford A. Pattershall, Esq.

1.  Ratification of Minutes from December 19, 2018 Meeting 

Motion: To adopt the December 19, 2018 Minutes as amended.
Made by: Mr. Nass
Seconded by: Ms. Lowry
Vote: 4-0

2.  Public Hearing – Proposed Rule Changes 

The Commission held a public hearing to receive comments on proposed changes to the Commission’s Rules concerning reporting campaign debts and disclosure of travel costs and other gifts received by officials.

No action required.

3.  Request for Waiver of Late-Filing Penalty – Cathleen Nichols 

Cathy Nichols ran for State Senate, District 25 in the 2018 general election.  On October 30, 2018, her campaign purchased a campaign mailing for $3,900.  She was required to disclose this expenditure the next day in a 24-Hour Report, but did not file it until December 18, 2018.  The preliminary penalty for filing the report 48 days late is $3,744.  The candidate requested a waiver because she misunderstood the 24-hour reporting requirement and the stressful conditions during the last two weeks before the general election. 

Motion: To adopt the staff recommendation of a civil penalty of $400.
Made by: Mr. Nass
Seconded by: Mr. Lee
Vote: 4-0

4.  Request for Waiver of Late-Filing Penalty –James LaBrecque 

James LaBrecque was a candidate for State Senate in the 2018 general election.  During the evening of December 18, 2018, his treasurer entered expenditures in the Commission’s efiling system in order to file the 42-Day Post-General Report, but he was unable to file the report by the 11:59 p.m. deadline because he was using the candidate’s username and password.  He filed the report the next day (one day late) after calling the Commission office for assistance.  The LaBrecque campaign requested a waiver of the $235.03 preliminary penalty. 

Motion: To adopt the statutorily calculated penalty of $235.03 as recommended by Commission Staff.
Made by: Mr. Lee
Seconded by: Mr. Nass
Vote: 4-0

5. Request for Waiver of Late-Filing Penalty – Mark Remick 

In 2018, Mark Remick was a candidate for State Representative in District 132.  On October 30 and November 1, 2018, his campaign ordered radio ads and mailers with a value of $1,602.69 and $1,180.00, respectively.  He was required to report each debt the next day in a 24-Hour Report.  He reported the expenditures after the election on December 7, 2018, when he paid for the services.  The preliminary penalties for the two late reports total $2,011.85. The candidate requested a waiver because he thought expenditures only needed to be reported when invoices were paid.  

Motion: To adopt the staff recommendation of a civil penalty of $400 total for the violations.
Made by: Mr. Pattershall
Seconded by: Mr. Lee
Vote: 4-0

6. Request for Waiver of Late-Filing Penalty – New Mainers PAC 

On November 1, 2019, the New Mainers PAC received two contributions of $5,000 and $7,000.  The PAC was required to disclose them the next day in a 24-Hour Report.  Unaware of the requirement, the PAC filed the 24-Hour Report on December 17, 2018 when it was preparing the regularly scheduled 42-day post-general election report.  The preliminary penalty is $10,000, and the PAC requested a waiver due to the inexperience of the PAC leaders and the small degree of harm to the public. 

Motion: To adopt the staff recommendation of $1,000 for the late filing.
Made by: Mr. Nass
Seconded by: Mr. Lee
Vote: 4-0

7.  Maine Clean Election Act Violation – John R. Clark 

After qualifying for Maine Clean Election Act (MCEA) funding, candidates are not allowed to accept cash contributions.  John R. Clark, a candidate for State Representative, collected four contributions totaling $105 during the summer of 2018.  The candidate believed he could continue to collect seed money contributions even after receiving MCEA funds.

Motion: To assess civil penalty of $250 for this violation, in light of the fact that the violation was the result of a purely innocent mistake and warrants a low penalty.
Made by: Mr. Lee
Seconded by: Mr. Nass
Vote: 4-0

8. Potential Change to Statutory Proposal – Commissioners’ Terms 

The Commission discussed a possible modification to one of its 2019 statutory proposals, suggested by Commissioner William A. Lee.

No action required.

Other Business: None

Executive Session: None