May 27, 2020 Commission Meeting

1.  Ratification of Minutes of March 10, 2020 Meeting

Motion:  Accept the Minutes with three minor changes.
Made by:  Mr. Nass
Seconded by:  Mr. Lee
Vote:  3-0

2.  Request to Investigate Polling by Collins for Senate

Mr. John Jamieson has filed a complaint alleging that in 2017 U.S. Senator Susan Collins violated Maine Election Law by receiving polling services from her federal campaign committee for the purpose of deciding whether to run for Governor that exceeded the $1,600 limitation applicable for the 2018 election cycle.  Sen. Collins responds that her committee’s expenditures for the polling were for a federal campaign purpose and she did not violate Maine law.  

Motion:  Adopt the Commission staff recommendation against conducting an investigation for the reasons stated on page 5 of the Commission staff memo.
Made by:  Mr. Nass
Seconded by:  Mr. Lee
Vote:  3-0

3.  Request for Waiver of Penalty – Maine Street Solutions – Protect Schools

Maine Street Solutions – Protect Schools is a ballot question committee (BQC) that opposed the March 3, 2020 people’s veto referendum to repeal an expansion of vaccine requirements.  On February 5, 2020, the BQC received a contribution of $250,000.  The BQC was required to send a notice to the contributor within five days that the contributor must file a major contributor report, but the BQC was one day late in providing the notice to the contributor.  The preliminary penalty for providing the notice late was $25,000 (ten percent of the contribution).  The BQC requests a waiver of the penalty because the delayed notice resulted from a misunderstanding of the deadline and the one-day delay resulted in no public harm.

Motion:  Accept the Commission staff recommendation of reducing the statutorily calculated penalty of $25,000 to $2,000.
Made by:  Mr. Nass
Seconded by:  Mr. Lee
Vote:  3-0

 4.  Request for Waiver of Penalty – Eliza Donoghue

Eliza Donohue, the lobbyist for Maine Audubon, was required to file a monthly lobbyist report on February 18, 2020 covering the month of January.  She attempted to file the report on the afternoon of February 11, but the Commission’s efiling system did not record the report as being filed that day.  After returning from vacation, she saw reminder emails and filed the report on February 24.  Ms. Donohue requests a waiver of the $100 late-filing penalty because she made a good faith effort to file the report.

Motion:  Reduce the statutorily calculated penalty by 50% and impose a penalty of $50.
Made by:  Mr. Lee
Seconded by:  Ms. Lowry
Vote:  3-0

5.  Findings of Violation and Penalties against Unregistered Candidates

The Commission may consider findings of violations and potential penalties against candidates who have failed to register with the Commission.  This matter may be continued until the Commission’s June 24 meeting.

Motion:  Assess a penalty of $100 against Edward Cohen for failure to register as a candidate with the Commission as required by law.
Made by:  Mr. Lee
Seconded by:  Ms. Lowry
Vote:  3-0

Other Business

Question on Use of Maine Clean Election Act Funds

The Commission discussed the use of Maine Clean Election Act funds to purchase masks and similar personal protective equipment by MCEA candidates.  The Commission stated masks qualify as an article of clothing.  The masks may be used by the campaign and volunteers to the campaign.  The masks must be distributed individually, not in bulk, and should have identifiable campaign information on either the mask or the bag containing the mask.

Executive Session:  None