Ethics panel exonerates Press Herald over free ads

Posted Feb. 18, 2011, at 8:50 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine newspaper that provided free advertising that advocated for a popularly elected mayor has been cleared of wrongdoing by the state’s election ethics panel.

Former Portland Charter Commission member Thomas Valleau contended the Portland Press Herald violated campaign finance laws by failing to disclose the ads as campaign donations. The newspaper said the ads were part of its ongoing relationship with the Portland Regional Chamber.

The Kennebec Journal says that by a 4-1 vote, the ethics commission concluded that the newspaper did not have to register as a ballot question committee and disclose the ads.

The ballot proposal to have a popularly elected mayor was approved by city voters in November. The Elect Our Mayor/Yes on 1 political action committee reported that the ads were valued at nearly $47,000.