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 names or depicts a clearly identified candidate and is disseminated within 28 days before a primary election; during the 35 days, including election day, before a special election; or from Labor Day to a general election.
Independent expenditure communications must generally identify the top three funders (PDF) of the organization making the expenditure.
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 $250 per candidate must file an Independent Expenditure Report.
Viewing Independent Expenditure Reports
To view filings made by PACs and party committees registered with the Ethics Commission:
- Start at the Commission's Public Disclosure Website.
- Clicking the three horizontal bars in the upper left.
- Click “Finance Reports.”
- Select “Filer Type” of PACs and party committees.
- Expand the report types list and then select “Independent Expenditure Reports.”
- To view filings made by others who are not registered with the Ethics Commission: