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Home > Meetings >April 26, 2011 Actions

Commission Actions
Meeting of April 26, 2011, 9:00 a.m.
45 Memorial Circle, Augusta, Maine

Present: Walter F. McKee, Esq., Chair; André G. Duchette, Esq.; Margaret E. Matheson, Esq., Michael T. Healy, Esq.; Hon. Edward M. Youngblood

1.  Ratification of Minutes of the February 17 Meeting

Motion:  To adopt the minutes as written.
Made by:  Ms. Matheson
Seconded by:  Mr. Duchette
Vote:  5-0 (motion passed)

2.  Public Hearing on Proposed Amendments to the Commission Rules

At the March meeting of the Commission, the members agreed to accept public comment on proposed amendments to the Commission’s rules drafted by staff.  On April 6, 2011, the Commission mailed a memo to interested persons inviting them to comment.  The Commission held a public hearing to receive comments from the public.  Interested persons may comment in writing until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 6, 2011.

No action required.

3.  Complaint against Maine Republican Party/Late Independent Expenditure Report

On Thursday, February 24, 2011, the Maine Republican Party filed an independent expenditure report for a mailing in support of its nominee for the March 1 special election for House of Representatives, District 11.  The report was filed one day late.  The routine penalty for the late filing was $24.69.  The Maine Democratic Party filed a complaint urging the Ethics Commission to assess an additional penalty under 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1127(1), because the late report delayed a payment of matching funds to the Democratic nominee by one day.

Motion:  That the Commission assess a penalty of $350.
Made by:  Mr. McKee
Seconded by:  Mr. Youngblood
Vote:  5-0 (motion passed)

4. Audit of 2010 Campaign of Joseph C. Palmieri and
5. Request for Waiver of Late-Filing Penalties/Joseph C. Palmieri

The Commission staff audited the 2010 Senate campaign of Joseph C. Palmieri, who was a publicly funded candidate for Senate District 7.  In the final audit report, the Commission auditor concluded that the candidate misreported campaign expenditures and made false statements in his seed money report; used MCEA funds to pay for goods and services received in the qualifying period; and did not return all unspent MCEA funds after the election.

The Palmieri campaign filed its 11-day pre-general campaign finance report on the deadline of October 22, 2011.  However, because the campaign significantly under-reported the expenditures for the period, the Commission staff is considering the report to be 56 days late.  The campaign also filed its post-election report three days late.  The preliminary penalties for the two late reports total $6,349.08.  The candidate requested a waiver of the preliminary penalties.  The staff recommended reducing the total penalties to $400. 

Motion on finding of violations:  That the Commission find Mr. Palmieri in violation of the Maine Clean Election Act, the specific violations being the audit findings #1 through #4 in the audit reports and that the Commission find that Mr. Palmieri’s 11-day pre general and 42 day post general reports were filed late.
Made by:  Mr. McKee
Seconded by:  
Ms. Matheson
5-0 (motion passed)

[The specific audit findings were:
#1 – Filing a seed money campaign finance report that substantially misreported expenditures
#2 – Making material false statements (reported expenditures) in seed money report
#3 – Spending MCEA funds on goods or services received prior to certification
#4 – Failing to return all unspent campaign funds]

Motion on assessment of penalties:  That the Commission adopt the staff’s recommended penalties for the audit findings #1 through #4 and for the late filed reports.
Made by:  Mr. Healy
Seconded by:  Mr. McKee

Amended Motion on assessment of penalties:  That the Commission adopt the staff’s recommended penalties for the audit findings #1, #3, and #4; assess a penalty of $250 for audit finding #2, and adopt the staff’s recommended penalties for the late filed reports.
Made by:  Mr. Healy
Seconded by:  Mr. McKee
Vote:  5-0 (motion passed)

Motion on repayment of MCEA funds:  That the Commission direct the candidate to repay $925.72 to the Maine Clean Election Fund.
Made by:  Mr. McKee
Seconded by:  Mr. Duchette
Vote:  5-0 (motion passed)

6Request for Waiver of Late-Filing Penalty/Lobbyist James M. Cote

James M. Cote is the registered lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine, and the President of the association.  He filed a monthly lobbyist report two days late on March 17, 2011.  The preliminary penalty is $100.  In his letter requesting a waiver of the $100 penalty, he explained that he completed the report on time, except for taking the step of filing it on the Commission’s website. 

Motion:  That the Commission accept the staff recommendation and assess a penalty of $100.
Made by:  Mr. McKee
Seconded by:  Mr. Duchette
Vote:  5-0 (motion passed)

7.  Proposed Statutory Change to Maine Clean Election Act

The Commission has submitted a campaign finance bill to the Maine Legislature for the 2011 session.  The staff proposes one additional change to the bill concerning permissible MCEA expenditures.  The consensus of the Commission was to keep the proposed provision that restricted MCEA candidates from using public funds to support or oppose a ballot question and to strike the rest of the proposed language.

No action required.

8.  Audits of Maine Clean Election Act Campaigns

In addition to agenda item #4 (audit of Joseph Palmieri), the Commission’s auditor has completed three audits of 2010 Maine Clean Election Act candidates: Paul Davis, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Anne Haskell.  No exceptions (violations) were found.

No action required.

9.  Meeting Schedule for 2011

The Commission discussed its meeting schedule for 2011.

No action required.

10.  Request for Investigation by Joseph and Michele Greenier

Joseph and Michele Greenier requested that the Commission investigate the 2010 campaign of Roger Katz.  They believe that the campaign received an in-kind contribution in connection with a purchase of campaigns signs.

Motion:  That the Commission take no further action.
Made by:  Ms. Matheson
Seconded by:  Mr. Youngblood
Vote:  4-0 (Mr. McKee recused himself from consideration of this matter.)