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Nichi Farnham subject of complaint to state ethics commission

8:39 PM, Oct 16, 2012   |    comments
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BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Democratic activists and supporters of Maine Clean Election Laws gathered in Bangor Tuesday to call attention to an ethics complaint filed against Nichi Farnham by the Maine Democratic Party. Farnham is the republican candidate for the District 32 Senate seat which encompasses parts of Bangor and Hermon. She is in a heated campaign against Democrat Geoffrey Gratwick . At issue in the ethics complaint is whether Farnham was affiliated with the PAC that spent nearly 73 thousand dollars on an attack ad against Gratwick.   The ad was paid for by the Maine Senate Republican Majority PAC.  Farnham was listed as one of two principal officers in a registration form filed last March, but Farnham is a clean elections candidate, meaning she is publicly funded and cannot receive campaign contributions from PACs. That is what the Maine Democratic Party alleges she did in a complaint filed with the Maine Ethics Commission nearly two weeks ago.

"We have every reason to believe that this was in no way an expenditure made independent of candidate Farnham and was in fact one of the most egregious campaign finance violations in Maine Legislative Elections,"  Democratic activist Gwethalyn Phillips said at a press conference at the Bangor Public Library.

The law states in part that "Any expenditure made by any person in cooperation consultation or concert with or at the request or suggestion of a candidate is considered to be a contribution to that candidate."

Democratic activists and advocates for the clean election law gathered at the Bangor Public library to lay out evidence they say shows Farnham did just that.

"Our own state senator Nichi Farnham has not conducted her own campaign in accordance with those laws," said Scott Ruffner another Bangor resident who described himself as a supporter of the clean elections law.

Farnham did issue her own statement denying having any wrongdoing and urging voters to withhold judgement until the Ethics commission looks into the complaint.

"The allegations in the Democratic Party Campaign are just that, they're allegations," said Farnham, adding that  it was a clerical error that her name remained on the form.  She says she had no other involvement with the PAC or decided how it spent its money.  Most was spent in the ad against her opponent, but according to Farnham, not at her direction.

"I was not involved in meetings, in strategy, in phone calls, in any of that that had to do with that." she said.  "I just want to say that its unfortunate that partisan politics seeks to use a clerical error which this is to attack my integrity and that of my family."

The Maine Ethics Commission will take up this complaint on October 31st and decide at that point whether there is enough to warrant an investigation.  Even if the commission does decide to investigate, there isn't much time before the election six days later, meaning voters may not know the outcome by the time they must cast ballots.

NEWS CENTER

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