About 80 percent of the candidates for the Legislature who sought public financing have been approved to receive the funds.

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices said that, of the 334 candidates in the June 8 primaries for the House and Senate, 265 submitted the required number of $5 qualifying contributions and swore off private funding.

A publicly financed House candidate must collect at least 60 $5 contributions from voters in their district; a Senate candidate must collect 175.

Forty-four more candidates had applications pending late Wednesday. All of them likely will qualify, say state officials.

“There are a number of administrative reasons why their certifications have yet to be finalized,” said Paul Lavin, assistant director of the commission.

Only about 25 candidates who intended to run publicly funded campaigns under the Clean Election Act failed to meet the requirements, or changed their minds and told the commission they would run privately financed campaigns.

Matthew Boucher of Ellsworth, a Republican running in House District 38, had 61 or more contributions and may have qualified, had he not been about a half-hour late submitting them.

He has appealed the commission’s denial of his application, and has a hearing scheduled today in Augusta.

Terry Morrison of South Portland, a Democrat running to represent House District 122, brought only 59 contributions to the commission one day before the April 21 deadline. He needed 60.

Gavin O’Brien of the ethics commission said most of the 44 candidates who submitted applications but are still uncertified had raised seed money — $500 for House candidates and $1,500 for Senate candidates — that they probably wanted to spend before submitting their required reports.

The amount of money the clean election fund pays candidates is reduced by the balance of their seed money when they submit their reports. The seed money, Lavin said, is intended to help candidates collect the qualifying contributions.

Certification of other candidates likely hinges on their failure to appoint a campaign treasurer other than themselves, failure to submit an alphabetical list of contributing supporters, or a failure to have contributions made in the form of signed money orders, Lavin said.

All candidates who receive public financing receive additional funds if they have opposition in the primary, and they have an opportunity for more to match fundraising efforts of privately financed opponents.

Although commission members were concerned that the fund might run short, given the demand of legislative and gubernatorial races, that worry is gone.

“At this point, there is no scenario where there would be a shortfall in the clean elections fund for the 2010 elections,” Lavin said.

 

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Ethan Wilensky-Lanford can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

[email protected]