Farnham Accused of $73,000 Ethics Violation

Senator Nichi Farnham – Scott Haskell | BDN

This is huge.

The Maine Republican Senate Majority PAC just disclosed one of the largest independent expenditures in a Maine state senate race ever (perhaps the largest), $73,000 to run negative TV ads against Democratic candidate Geoff Gratwick in Bangor.

Normally, that would be big news in and of itself. But in this case, the PAC in question is actually controlled by Gratwick’s opponent, Senator Nichi Farnham, who is listed in official documentation as its principal and chief decision maker. That’s a clear violation of Maine’s Clean Elections law, which states that “Any expenditure made by any person in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, a candidate’s political committee or their agents is considered to be a contribution to that candidate.” Because she’s a Clean Elections candidate, any such contribution to Farnham is illegal.

To make matters worse, Farnham is the Senate Chair of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which oversees Maine’s campaign finance laws.

The Democratic Party has already sent out a press release, with Party Chairman Ben Grant declaring that “We will aggressively pursue this kind of corruption, and we will be filing an ethics complaint first thing in the morning.”

There are also rumors that the entire ad buy hasn’t been disclosed yet. This could easily be one of the most significant violations of Maine campaign finance law ever seen.

Matt Stone has more.

Mike Tipping

About Mike Tipping

Mike writes about Maine politics and policy with a focus on analysis and explanation. He works at the Maine People's Alliance and Maine People's Resource Center, writes a political column for the Portland Press Herald