Federal judge Margaret Kravchuk today rejected The Portland Press Herald’s bid to intervene and expand public access to information in a lawsuit over a political attack website from the 2010 Maine gubernatorial campaign.

 Kravchuk said the newspaper’s involvement is unnecessary because she has already ruled that some confidential documents surrounding “TheCutler Files” website will be made public within a couple of weeks.

Kravchuk said the Press Herald could still get involved in the case later if it believes the public should have access to any documents used by the court as a basis for a decision.

The judge has put the newspaper’s request for intervener status “on hold,” said Sigmund Schutz, an attorney for the newspaper. “She’s taking a wait-and-see approach to see what other people file and whether anybody is asking for additional secrecy in the case,” he said.

At issue is the conflict between the right to anonymous political speech and the public’s right to know who is putting out information during an election campaign.

The case concerns two 2010 gubernatorial candidates, independent Eliot Cutler and Democrat Rosa Scarcelli, and well-known political operative Dennis Bailey.

The Cutler Files website, which featured documents and newspaper stories critical of Cutler, was active last year from about Aug. 30 through the election on Nov. 2. After weeks of denying any connection, Bailey admitted in December 2010 to being a co-creator of the anonymous site.

Bailey had been a political adviser to Scarcelli, who lost in her bid for the Democratic nomination. Scarcelli’s husband, Thomas Rhoads, admitted in January – months after media reports of his involvement – to providing research for The Cutler Files.

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices investigated The Cutler Files after Cutler filed a complaint. The commission fined Bailey $200 for failing to disclose that he authored material to influence voting.

Bailey is appealing the fine. The case is now making its way through U.S. District Court. Bailey argues that the state violated his right to anonymous speech under the First Amendment.

John Paterson, an attorney representing Bailey on behalf of the Civil Liberties Union of Maine, said that the judge’s ruling is a fair because it respects the right of the paper to have access to court documents while also protecting individuals who are not part of the lawsuit from being embarrassed for no reason.

This week, Kravchuk ruled that some documents from the discovery process that have been kept confidential at the request of Bailey and Rhoads will become public. The orders issued Monday give the parties two weeks to object.