The state Ethics Commission will be looking at two ads produced by a national Republican group on behalf of Chandler Woodcock to see if they should trigger matching funds for the two other publicly funded candidates running for governor.

Paul Lavin, assistant director of the state’s office of Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, said Monday that Pat LaMarche, Green Party candidate, is filing a second complaint regarding the latest ad produced by the Republican Governor’s Association in Washington, D.C. The ads have been estimated to cost $200,000.

In her first complaint, she said Woodcock should either give the money back to the Clean Elections fund or ask that matching amounts be given to her and independent Barbara Merrill. Gov. John Baldacci is running a privately financed campaign.

“Mr. Woodcock took tax dollars, 600,000 of them, as a card-carrying clean candidate, pledging not to take special interest money, PAC money, lobby money or any other contribution greater than $100. Now $200,000 from an out-of-state, special-interest group has poured into Maine with the express purpose of helping him in his campaign, and it is hypocritical for Mr. Woodcock to allow such a lopsided contribution,” LaMarche said about the first ad.

Lavin said the Ethics Commission has requested information from the Republican Governors Association, including where they got the videotape that was in the ads. The commission will rule on the complaints at its Sept. 22 meeting. Lavin said commission staff is unlikely to make a recommendation on the ruling before the full commission meets.

The issue is whether the ads advocate for the election or defeat of a certain candidate. If they do, that could trigger the matching funds.

The first ad, which was essentially biographical in nature about Woodcock, never mentioned he was running for governor. The second ad, however, which criticizes the state’s tax burden and a $733 million so-called budget gap under the Baldacci administration, does use the words Woodcock and governor, followed by a campaign slogan.

That ad has been pulled by two Bangor TV stations after the Baldacci campaign complained it wasn’t factual. It reportedly was still running in the Portland area on Monday.

Chris Jackson, Woodcock’s campaign manager, said the ads were done “independent of the campaign.”

“They tout Chandler. They talk about taking Maine in a new direction, and they obviously use the same talking points that Chandler uses. They help us at the end of the day,” he said, but “We had nothing to do with the ads.”


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