AUGUSTA — A political consultant from New Hampshire who was hired to work on Les Otten’s campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination is accused of two violations of election law and faces a fine, following an ethics investigation.

The staff of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices is recommending that Michael Dennehy pay a $274 fine for not following Maine law when he funded negative campaign calls against Paul LePage during this year’s GOP primary.

Dennehy paid for the calls in early June and did not check with Otten before hiring a firm to make the calls, ethics officials found.

The staff is recommending the fine because Dennehy failed to put a disclaimer on the call to identify who paid for it, and because he did not file a report to disclose the expense.

“We would prefer to recommend a higher penalty, because $274 is inconsistent with the seriousness of the violation,” wrote the commission’s executive director, Jonathan Wayne, in his recommendation. “Nevertheless, this appears to be the largest penalty supported by the election law.”

Dennehy, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, told the Kennebec Journal in July that he wanted to defend Otten in the final hours of the primary campaign because he thought a negative mailer had been distributed by the LePage campaign. He said he acted quickly, paid for the calls himself, and was unaware that Maine law required a disclaimer.

The call, which questioned LePage’s stance on gay marriage, went to more than 7,000 Maine Republicans on the night before the June 8 primary.

The transcript reads:

“Does Paul LePage have any real convictions? You be the judge. On civil unions, the Augusta Insider.US (sic) reported that Paul LePage said he would not support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. But, LePage’s stance on civil unions, as reported at As Maine Goes.Com, LePage says a civil contract between unmarried couples, gay or heterosexual, is an acceptable arrangement and a private concern. If we can’t trust Paul LePage on moral values, how can we trust him to run the State of Maine?”

LePage, who easily won the seven-way primary the next day, opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions, but supports civil law contracts to define property rights, wills and powers of attorney.

The five-member commission will meet Tuesday to consider this recommendation and other matters.


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