AUGUSTA – Maine’s ethics commission voted 4-0 Thursday to authorize an investigation into who is behind a “push poll” that the Maine Democratic Party says is disseminating false information about Democratic state Senate candidates.

In a push poll, a voter gets a call from someone who says they are doing a poll and then offers false information about a candidate. Push polls do not tabulate results; the aim is to influence voters, said Dan Walker, an attorney for the Democratic Party.

Push polls are not illegal, but those who do them must register with the state. No one has registered, Walker said.

The party has received information from people who live in Senate Districts 1, 14, 19, 28 and 32 that such calls are being made. The elections in those districts — in York, Oxford and Penobscot counties — are expected to be hotly contested on Nov. 2.

“We really, truly believe it’s a push poll,” Walker said, and two firms from Utah have been hired to make the calls.

Daniel Billings, an attorney who represents the Senate Republican campaign, said it isn’t behind the calls.

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the ethics commission, said he hopes that those who are behind the calls will come forward, and if they don’t, he will make a round of calls to the “usual suspects” — interest groups and others who tend to get involved in political campaigns.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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