AUGUSTA – The Maine Ethics Commission will not penalize a publicly-funded Democratic candidate for using a vague campaign finance rule that allowed his volunteers to pay for $1,800 worth of mailings.

Commissioners instead plan to clarify the so-called house party exemption, a rule meant to allow volunteers to pick up part of the costs of campaign events – up to $250 per election.

Rep. Ben Chipman, who won a Democratic state senate primary in Portland, had 10 volunteers pay a Portland mail house for a $1,828 mailing highlighting two house party events.

Commissioners on Wednesday voted 3-2 to not investigate the mailings’ financing. They expressed concern that Chipman complied with statute but went beyond its intent.

Commissioners want to prevent exploitation by prohibiting volunteers from sharing the cost of campaign event invitations.