The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices will meet Wednesday in Augusta to discuss candidates who qualified for Clean Election funding but were denied access to it after a typographical error in the biennial budget eliminated $3 million from the fund.

Two Republican candidates for the Maine House of Representatives – Mark Andre in District 110, which includes Waterville and Oakland, and Kathy Javner in District 141, which includes parts of Washington and Penobscot counties – both qualified to receive Clean Election funding. However, because of recounts in their primary contests, they missed the deadline to receive the funding.

Andre and Javner, along with 128 others who qualified for additional funding, haven’t received it because the Legislature unintentionally reduced the commission’s spending authority by $3 million. Andre says the shortfall has unfairly left him at a disadvantage to his Democratic opponent, Colleen Madigan, a Clean Election candidate who has received her funding. Andre said he has contracted services that need to be paid for. Andre’s recount occurred near the end of June and the state wasn’t able to make a Clean Election payment to his campaign before the new fiscal year began on July 1.

Rumors that lawmakers would meet Monday or Tuesday to address the shortfall have been squelched both by Senate President Mike Thibodeau and House Speaker Sara Gideon, who said they were not calling lawmakers back into session.

“I do not intend to call the Senate back into session until an agreement is reached to move the tax conformity legislation out of the House of Representatives and to the Senate for final enactment,” Thibodeau wrote in a letter to senators.

Likewise, Gideon wrote to representatives that it wasn’t clear when they would be called back to Augusta as they await the fate of three bills on Gov. Paul LePage’s desk.

“For planning purposes, I do not anticipate that we will be coming in Monday, July 23,” she wrote.

Mark Andre, A Republican House candidate in District 110, is one of two candidates who qualified to receive Clean Election funding. However, because of recounts in their primary contests, they missed the deadline to receive the funding.

In an email exchange with Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, Andre was told to be patient while waiting for the $5,075 he is owed in Clean Election funds. Initially, Andre had responded he would not “sit tight” and was planning to loan himself the balance of what the state owed him. Wayne advised against this, however, as Clean Election candidates can’t accept private donations, and even a loan to themselves would constitute a private donation.

On Friday, Andre agreed to wait until the commission met Wednesday before going forward with the loan.

“I will sit tight until then regarding the loan to provide the initial funding of $5,075 owed to my campaign per the MCE agreement,” Andre wrote. “In advance of the meeting, I request you send a list of the various options that will be considered for MCE candidates to finance their campaigns pending a legislative fix. I’m assuming they are not ‘good’ options or you would’ve implemented them weeks ago rather than allowing this inequitable situation to continue, but I would like an opportunity to review and comment on them ahead of the July 25th meeting. Please also comment as to whether this is an open meeting (time and place if it is) and if my campaign is able to submit materials for consideration by the Commission and the process for doing so.”

In his response to Andre, Wayne said he feels “shot down” in his attempts to “circumvent the current obstacles to make a payment to you.”

“If the Legislature does not meet on July 23 or 24, the Commission may decide that it is premature to make decisions about the financial restrictions on MCEA candidates through the rest of the year,” Wayne wrote.

Wayne had said Andre should contact Republican leaders in the House – Minority Leader Ken Fredette and Assistant Minority Leader Ellie Espling – about the issue. But Andre said that would be lobbying on behalf of the Ethics Commission, which he said was not appropriate for a candidate to do.

The Clean Election Act, established in 1996, is a voluntary program that fully finances qualified individuals running for governor or the Legislature. To qualify, candidates must collect a minimum number of donations of $5 or more made payable to the Maine Clean Election Fund. Once the candidate qualifies, he or she cannot accept private contributions.

Wednesday’s meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the commission’s office on Memorial Circle.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: colinoellis


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.