January 28, 2013

LePage may have new tactic to get cuts

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

Politically, a shutdown would appear to be a worst-case scenario for Democrats, particularly as it relates to the 2014 governor's race. Gridlock, or a government shutdown, would seemingly strengthen the presumed candidacy of Eliot Cutler, an independent.

The prospect of a shutdown would also seem to bolster the bargaining position of the Republican legislative minority, whose support will be needed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to overcome LePage's veto power.


The Maine Ethics Commission will propose some changes that will affect election laws.

Director Jonathan Wayne said the commission plans to submit legislation that will strengthen the disclosure requirements for the primary decision makers for political action committees and campaign committees. The proposal stems from last summer's controversy involving former Republican state Sen. Nichi Farnham of Hermon, who had been accused by the Maine Democratic Party of breaking the law prohibiting candidates from using PAC funds to help their individual campaigns.

Farnham was listed as the primary decision maker on the Maine Senate Republican Majority PAC, which spent heavily on Farnham's race with Democratic Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick. She was exonerated after claiming that she forgot she was the primary decision maker for the PAC.

Skeptics say that excuse didn't wash, but the Ethics Commission said it was highly unlikely that Farnham knew or initiated some of the ads that ran against Gratwick.

Wayne said that the new disclosure, which will include additional filing requirements and a sworn statement by the decision maker, is designed to remove the possibility that someone could forget, purposely or otherwise, that they're the ones responsible for the PAC or campaign's activities.

Also on the PAC front, Wayne said the commission will change the reporting period for PACs during the final days before an election. Currently, PACs file reports 11 days prior to Election Day but don't have to file another report until 42 days after the election. Critics have said the reporting gap makes it easier for PACs to exceed contribution limits with no penalty until after the election is decided, and that it's less transparent.

Wayne said the commission will propose 24-hour reports during the final days before an election.


LePage will give his State of the State address at 7 p.m. Feb. 5. The governor will deliver his remarks to a joint session of the Legislature in the House chamber.

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com Twitter: stevemistler

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