A lighted sign on Maine Avenue in Farmingdale, seen Wednesday, encourages passing motorists to vote for Will Guerrette in the Senate District 14 special election next Tuesday. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

GARDINER — Portable electronic signs urging residents in southern Kennebec County to vote for Republican candidate William Guerrette in the special election for the Senate District 14 seat have drawn a complaint.

The Maine Ethics Commission confirmed Wednesday that it has received a complaint about the four signs from Ted and Diane Potter of Gardiner, who claim the signs lack the political disclaimer for campaign signage.

The signs, which have been seen in Pittston, Randolph, Farmingdale and Manchester since last week, say either “Vote Will Guerette,” or “Vote Guerette Mar 9th.” Because of the width of the sign, one R is left out of Guerrette.

The March 9 special election is to fill the vacant Senate seat. Shenna Bellows was elected to a third term in Senate District 14, but she declined to be sworn in after the Legislature elected her to serve as Maine’s secretary of state.

Guerrette, who lives in Pittston, is running against Craig Hickman, a Democrat from Winthrop.

Guerrette said his signs, which were are on private land and belong to a contractor who wanted to help out his campaign, are in full compliance with what the Ethics Commission has asked for.

Shawn Roderick, a legislative aide in the Maine state Senate Republican Office said Guerrette had an opportunity to get four big signs that are a little out of the ordinary.

“As soon as Ethics reached out and told us we had to have a disclaimer, the short of it is we put the disclaimer on the signs, and (Ethics) told us we were all set,” Roderick said.

A handwritten disclosure statement has been taped to the signs.

Roderick said initially they had been told they didn’t need a disclaimer.

“Under the law, if it’s not a normal printed sign, you don’t need disclaimers,” he said.

That disclaimer states the sign was authorized and paid for by the candidate.

Julia Brown, executive director of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, said the signs look like the traffic signs commonly used by the Maine Department of Transportation to advise about road conditions or seatbelt use.

“Mainers deserve to know who is paying to influence them, which is why we have the ‘paid by’ disclaimers on them,” Brown said.

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission, said Wednesday that members of the commission will consider the complaint at a public meeting, but that meeting has not been scheduled yet.

This story has been corrected. The name of one of the people who filed the complaint was incorrect.

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