A Maine-based political action committee has either spent or committed to spend more than $311,000 to convince voters Tuesday to reject Question 1.

But only $37,955 in contributions has been reported to the state so far.

So where did all the money come from to fund the campaign, including a new $163,000 television ad campaign that began earlier this week?

Voters will find out after Election Day.

Question 1 would repeal a newly enacted state law that requires voters to register at least two business days before an election.

The political action committee that opposes it, No on 1-Secure Maine’s Ballot, has done nothing improper or illegal by not disclosing its contributors.

But some say the sudden arrival of big contributions after Oct. 25 — the last reporting deadline before the election — illustrates a flaw in Maine’s campaign finance law.

While state law requires that political action committees report all spending in the last two weeks of the campaign, they do not have to disclose contributions until Dec. 20.

The information gap defeats the purpose of Maine’s campaign finance law, which is to educate voters about who is trying to influence elections, said Mike Cuzzi, a Portland-based political and communications consultant who has worked for Democrats.

“You want to know who’s pulling the puppet strings here,” he said.

Candidates for state office must follow stricter rules. In the last 13 days before an election, candidates must report all contributions of more than $1,000.

However, for the same time period, political action committees and political parties only have to report spending.

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, said the commission in 2010 proposed L.D. 1546, which included a provision that would have required contributions greater than $1,000 received by political action committees and party committees in the last 13 days to be reported within 24 hours.

While the Legislature passed the bill, that provision was stripped out. Wayne said he doesn’t remember why.

Although some states have stricter reporting requirements than Maine, many states don’t, said Arn Pearson, vice president of Common Cause, a nonpartisan government watchdog organization.

Ann Luther, who serves on the board of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections and the League of Women Voters, said knowing the source of campaign contributions is critical information for voters.

“It’s important to know whose interests are being served by the passage or defeat of these ballot questions,” she said, adding that she is speaking only for herself. The League of Women Voters is supporting Question 1.

Harold Clough of Scarborough is the treasurer of No on 1-Secure Maine’s Ballot. He said he was surprised when he called the state and learned that political action committees are not required to report contributions in the last two weeks of the campaign.

Like many Maine voters, he would also like to know who is contributing to campaigns because he wants to know who benefits, he said.

Still, until the law is changed and everyone is required to play by the same rules, his group won’t disclose who contributed the $274,000 it received in the final two weeks of the campaign. He said he will disclose the names sooner than the Dec. 20 deadline.

He said his group decided to wait until now to spend most of its money because it is being outspent by Question 1 proponents. He said the money would be more effective if spent in the last days of the campaign.

Protect Maine Votes, the biggest political action committee supporting Question 1, has reported raising $538,000 and has spent more than $300,000 in the last two weeks of the campaign.

Spokesman David Farmer said he believes that the No on 1 campaign decided to raise most of its money after the Oct. 25 reporting deadline so it wouldn’t have to disclose the names of contributors.

“They are making the claim that out-of-staters are trying to steal your election,” he said. “That’s a bit hypocritical when it’s very likely that a large sum of their money is coming in from outside.”

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: [email protected]