AUGUSTA — The Maine ethics commission voted unanimously Wednesday to dismiss a complaint from former Waterville Ward 1 candidate Catherine Weeks alleging a flyer anonymously distributed two days before the election unfairly swayed voters against her.

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted 3-0 not to investigate Weeks’ complaint after members said it lacked information and there was no evidence the flyer met the $100 cost threshold needed to trigger an investigation.

“You haven’t given anybody enough information to do anything,” Commissioner Richard Nass said. “And they have the right to speak anonymously. It happens a lot. It’s devastating when it happens to candidates.”

The flyer says Weeks called Waterville a “disgrace” and a “circus, believes conspiracy theories, and wants to recall all non-Republican city councilors. It calls on people to vote against her.

Commission Chairman William Lee recused himself from the discussion and vote because he is Waterville’s attorney and that could cause a conflict in the future.

Weeks, a Republican who lost the Ward 1 election to Democrat Mike Morris by two votes after a recount, also submitted copies of letters from anonymous supporters who she said were frightened by the flyer.

Weeks said she was trying to protect the writers of the anonymous letters, saying if their names were made public, they would be printed in the newspaper and the people would be harassed.

“It seems counter to the intent of your complaint,” Commissioner Meri Lowry said.

Weeks also submitted a copy of an email from an attorney on behalf of Colby College denying her request for copies of a volunteer log kept for students at the new downtown dormitory. She alleged Colby students might have distributed the flyers.

Weeks was joined by supporters Julian Payne, a member of the Waterville School Board who says he is a Democrat but has recently sided with Republicans on city issues; and Mark Andre, of Oakland, who was a Republican candidate for House District 110, which includes part of Waterville.

Andre said students who are living in the new Alfond Commons downtown have been doing political canvassing and volunteer work for his opponent, Rep. Colleen Madigan, D-Waterville, to fulfill a requirement set by the dormitory that they perform civic engagement. He asked the commission whether that information should be disclosed or counted as a campaign contribution.

Asked whether political canvassing or volunteer work can count toward the students’ requirements, Colby spokeswoman Ruth Jackson said in an email that students participate in a range of activities including working for the city, area schools and local arts and services organizations.

“Colby students also intern in the offices of elected officials on both sides of the political aisle,” Jackson said. “The College is completely agnostic on political affiliation, and students and other members of the community are welcome to volunteer with organizations that are meaningful to them.”

A cornerstore of Andre’s campaign was a petition asking Colby to contribute millions of dollars to an economic plan for the city and was involved in challenging student ballots in the recent election.

He said Wednesday the new dormitory has become a “real issue” downtown.

“We have this new dorm and we have staff paid to help students organize,” Andre said. “If the college has an agenda they want to advance, they can utilize that building to impact council races, to impact legislative races.”

Commissioners said Andre was within his rights to raise his concern, but the issue was only tangentially related to Weeks’ complaint.

Payne, meanwhile, said he came to support Weeks on Wednesday because of a friendship they formed while both siding with Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro during a recent effort to recall Isgro for comments he made on social media.

“Ultimately, I just thought it was a very low tactic and the fact they haven’t put ‘Paid for and endorsed’ on it tells me the people (who made the flyer) aren’t even proud enough to own up to it,” Payne said.

A similar thing happened to him over the summer, he said, after he made a comment about the city pool at a budget meeting and was then the subject of a flyer distributed by former City Councilor Lauren Lessing.

That flyer was not distributed anonymously, but Payne said it raised similar questions about civility in politics.

“We’re losing freedom of speech in Waterville,” Payne said. “Someone comes and speaks at a council meeting, and then that speech is used in snippets against you. There’s a pattern of this behavior in Waterville.”

Weeks’ opponent in the Ward 1 race, Mike Morris, has said previously that he did not pay for or distribute the flyer and did not know who did.

In her complaint, Weeks said it “created fear and anger with the residents” and was distributed “under the cover of night” on Nov. 4. She estimated hundreds of the flyers went out in Ward 1.

“The reason I sought an investigation was the flyer definitely did not say who distributed and paid for it,” Weeks said after the hearing. “That’s what I was after. The other reason I came was so this does not happen to the next person, because what happened, I felt, did sway the election by two votes.”

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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