Crown Politics

Maine judge orders LePage to release public campaign funds

AUGUSTA, Maine — Backers of Maine’s public campaign system won a battle with Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday after a judge ruled that roughly $1 million in taxpayer funds must be paid to gubernatorial and legislative candidates after the governor tried to block them.

It could be only the beginning of a court fight around the embattled Maine Clean Election program, which was created by Maine voters in 1996 and beefed up by referendum in 2015. For now, a legal drafting error that the Legislature hasn’t fixed is keeping other funds from being paid to candidates.

The lawsuit came in June after LePage, a Republican, refused to sign financial orders that would have allowed the Maine Ethics Commission — which administers the program — to increase the amount of money that it could give to qualifying candidates before the end of the last fiscal year on June 30.

Before that, the commission voted to reduce payments to Clean Election candidates to match the amount in the fund. Independent Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes — the only Clean Election gubernatorial candidate — and legislative hopefuls got a total of $467,000 — only about 26 percent of the $1.4 million that they had qualified for, according to commission data.

To read the rest of “Maine judge orders LePage to release public campaign funds,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Michael Shepherd, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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