October 14, 2010

LePage accused of ethics violation

By Rebekah Metzler rmetzler@mainetoday.com
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA - The Maine Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint Wednesday against Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage alleging that he failed to properly report his use of a Marden's company car for campaign purposes.

The complaint was filed with the Maine Commission of Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

LePage's campaign said the complaint is politically motivated and that his use of the car is documented appropriately. LePage is the general manager of Marden's Surplus and Salvage.

The Maine Democratic Party alleged that because LePage uses a company car on the campaign trail, he should list it as what's called an 'in-kind' donation on his campaign finance reports. They also alleged that because LePage received about $758 in mileage reimbursement from his campaign for travel, Marden's exceeded the maximum campaign contribution of $750.

In-kind donations are goods and services provided to campaigns at reduced or no cost. They are subject to the same limits that apply to cash contributions.

"Mr. LePage's car has been part of his compensation package, which includes personal use," said Brent Littlefield, a campaign consultant for LePage. "Mr. LePage pays taxes on that personal use and is responsible for fuel expenses for that personal use. Any and all limited travel in relation to this particular car and the campaign is handled by Mr. LePage personally as per company policy and following the letter of the law."

That's why LePage listed his travel reimbursements on his campaign finance reports, Littlefield said.

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine ethics commission, said commissioners would likely meet early next week to address the complaint.

If a violation is found, the LePage campaign could face a fine.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: rmetzler@mainetoday.com


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