For those following the Maine municipal campaign finance disclosure issue (poor souls), the story has a happy ending.
A bill that fixes the problem -- ensuring preservation of candidate disclosures and web access to them -- was signed into law by Governor John Baldacci this morning, according to his deputy chief of staff, David Farmer. "It's an important improvement in the retention policy for public records," Mr. Farmer said. "The maintenance of public records is very important for disclosure and for a historical perspective."
City and town clerks across Maine had been destroying the campaign finance documents in as soon as two years after an election, making it impossible to trace links between special interests and elected city officials over time. After I broke the story for Maine Public Broadcasting and Working Waterfront, State Sen. Justin Alfond (D-Portland) sponsored LD1100, which turns control of the documents over to the State Ethics Commission, which retains county and state disclosures. The bill was initially rejected by a legislative committee, but ultimately received unanimous approval.
LD1100 goes into effect in the 2011 election cycle. It is unclear whether the Maine State Archives - which has jurisdiction over local campaign records until then - will formally advise city clerks to retain disclosures in the interim. (In the meantime, I've posted the surviving Portland, Maine disclosures here.)
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