AUGUSTA – The state ethics commission continues to review a request for public financing from Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Richardson, 20 days after the deadline to apply for the money.

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices released funding for three other candidates — Sen. Peter Mills, R-Cornville, and Democrats Patrick McGowan and Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell — soon after the April 1 deadline.

The commission’s executive director, Jonathan Wayne, said a decision on Richardson’s request is expected this week.

Wayne declined to say why Richardson’s application is taking longer than the others. “We expect to be able to say more in the coming days,” he said.

Monica Castellanos, spokeswoman for Richardson, a former speaker of the House and state economic development commissioner, said the campaign used 170 volunteers to gather the $5 checks needed to qualify for public campaign financing, and some of the paperwork was not filled out to the letter of the law.

For example, some people printed their names on the forms, rather than signing them, so she has been going back to the contributors to get signatures, she said.

Overall, the campaign turned in more than the 3,250 required $5 checks, but some have been thrown out because some donors contributed twice or were unregistered voters, she said.

“We were the last candidate to get our stuff in,” she said. “In retrospect, we would have loved to have had that done a little more quickly.”

She said there have been no discussions of contingency plans if Richardson does not qualify for public funding. He has continued a full campaign schedule and plans to introduce a major economic development plan at an event in Brunswick today, she said.

The 12 candidates in the June 8 primaries have chosen different financing methods.

Mills, McGowan and Mitchell turned in the required number of checks and at least $40,000 in seed money to qualify for the taxpayer-funded Clean Election system. That entitles them to a minimum of $400,000 for the primary campaign, and the possibility of as much as $200,000 more if their privately funded opponents spend more than $400,000.

Others in the race chose to raise private money.

Democrats Rosa Scarcelli and Steve Rowe are privately funded, as are Republicans Les Otten, Waterville Mayor Paul LePage, Matt Jacobson, Bruce Poliquin, Bill Beardsley and Steve Abbott.

If Richardson, of Brunswick, doesn’t qualify for public money, he will have the option of switching to private financing to pay campaign expenses.

Today is the deadline for legislative candidates to apply for Clean Election money, a process that was consuming much of the ethics commission staff’s time on Tuesday, Wayne said.

 

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: scover@centralmaine.com