June 23, 2018
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Richardson camp awaits word on public financing

By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Democratic gubernatorial contender John Richardson is still waiting to hear from the state Ethics Commission whether his campaign has qualified to participate in Maine’s public financing program.

Richardson was among three Democrats and one Republican who filed paperwork and donations to qualify for public campaign financing through the voter-approved Maine Clean Election Act.

Democrats Pat McGowan and Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell and Republican Peter Mills already have been certified by the Ethics Commission, which oversees Maine’s campaign finance laws.

But the commission is still reviewing whether Richardson — a former lawmaker and economic development commissioner for the state — had received enough valid contributions to qualify.

In order to demonstrate community support for their candidacy, gubernatorial hopefuls are required to collect at least 3,250 qualifying contributions of $5 from registered Maine voters for the Maine Clean Election Fund.

Richardson spokeswoman Monica Castellanos said Tuesday that the campaign filed more than 3,500 qualifying contributions.

Some subsequently were eliminated because they were duplicates, came from unregistered voters or contained the printed name of the donor but not the required signature.

In the latter cases, the individuals already have been verified by local clerks as registered voters. Campaign staffers have since gone back and attempted to secure the necessary signatures from those donors.

“Everything is done, it’s just they are missing the signature,” Castellanos said.

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission, said Tuesday that his staff is still reviewing the application and expects to make a determination sometime this week. The application and qualifying contributions were due April 1.

Candidates who qualify for public financing will receive $400,000 for the primary election and, in exchange, must agree not to accept donations from private individuals or interests. They also can receive up to an additional $200,000 in matching funds in order to avoid being significantly outspent by privately financed candidates.

Disqualification for clean elections funding at this point in the campaign — roughly seven weeks before the June 8 primary — likely would be a significant financial blow to Richardson’s campaign. The two privately financed Democratic candidates — Steven Rowe and Rosa Scarcelli — had both reported raising roughly $250,000 by January, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. Candidates will file updated reports next week.

Castellanos said the campaign has not discussed the “what-if” scenario of losing funding, adding she is hopeful the contributions will be approved.

“We submitted our qualifying contributions and now the Ethics Commission is doing its job,” she said.

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