AUGUSTA – The ethics commission adopted emergency rules Thursday, one week after a decision by a federal judge struck down part of Maine’s public financing guidelines.

U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby ruled last week that some Maine regulations were “unconstitutionally burdensome” because they required outside groups that spend money to influence candidate races to file finance reports within 24 hours.

The ruling came as part of a decision in a case in which the National Organization for Marriage and American Principles in Action sued the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices over free speech rights.

On Thursday, the commission adopted rules that will be in place for 90 days that attempt to balance Hornby’s concern for undue burden with the public’s right to know who is behind advertising designed to influence the outcome of an election, said Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the commission.

The amended rules apply to political action committees, party committees and other outside groups that make expenditures that are independent from money spent by candidates.

The reports are important to those who are participating in the state’s Clean Election system because they can trigger additional funding for those who are targeted by an ad, he said.

The new rules stipulate that starting Sept. 7, independent expenditures of more than $250 must be filed within 48 hours of making the expenditure. Then on Oct. 20, independent expenditures of more than $100 must be reported within 24 hours. All other independent expenditures must be filed with the state Sept. 7, Oct. 12 and Oct. 19.

In other action, the commission imposed a $100 fine on House District 71 candidate Mark L. Chizmar, a Lewiston Republican, for filing a campaign finance report 10 days late. State law would have allowed a $1,243.20 penalty but the commission opted to cut the amount to $100.

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

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