Monday, April 6, 2009

Maine: update on campaign finance disclosure mess

As I reported in January, Maine towns and cities have been destroying campaign finance disclosures in as little as two years after an election on the advice of state officials. The destruction of these documents makes it impossible to trace relationships between donors and elected officials over time, which is the entire point of having them.

In response, State Senator Justin Alfond has submitted a bill that would remedy the situation by extending existing rules and procedures used for county and state candidates to municipal ones (in towns and cities with at least 15,000 residents.) As a result, responsibility for retaining the documents (forever) would be transferred from the Maine State Archives (which recommended their premature destruction) to the state ethics commission.

A public hearing on the measure is to be held at 9:30 this morning at the Cross Office Building in Augusta. [UPDATE: 5/7/2009]

The head of the ethics commission, Jonathan Wayne, told me the plan was feasible, so long as his office received a little additional manpower assistance around election time.

In the meantime, I've posted copies of the surviving campaign finance disclosures for Portland on my own website, since the city is unwilling or unable to do so themselves. Thus far, nobody has responded to my blanket request for copies of disclosures for election cycles prior to 2006.

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