S.P. 668 - L.D. 1854
Sec. B-1. 21-A MRSA §1122, sub-§4-A is enacted to read:
4-A. Immediate family.
"Immediate family" has the same meaning as in section 1, subsection 20 and includes a candidate's domestic partner and the immediate family of the candidate's domestic partner.
Sec. B-2. 21-A MRSA §1122, sub-§7, as enacted by IB 1995, c. 1, §17, is amended to read:
7. Qualifying contribution.
"Qualifying contribution" means a donation:
A. Of $5 in the form of a check or a money order payable to the fund , signed by the contributor and made in support of a candidate;
B. Made by a registered voter within the electoral division for the office a candidate is seeking and whose voter registration has been verified by the municipal registrar;
C. Made during the designated qualifying period and obtained with the knowledge and approval of the candidate; and
D. That is acknowledged by a written receipt that identifies the name and address of the donor the contributor acknowledges was made with the contributor's personal funds and in support of the candidate and was not given in exchange for anything of value and that the candidate acknowledges was obtained with the candidate's knowledge and approval and that nothing of value was given in exchange for the contribution, on forms provided by the commission.
Sec. B-3. 21-A MRSA §1122, sub-§9, as amended by PL 2005, c. 301, §28, is further amended to read:
9. Seed money contribution.
"Seed money contribution" means a contribution of no more than $100 per individual made to a participating candidate, including a contribution from the candidate or the candidate's family spouse or domestic partner. To be eligible for certification, a candidate may collect and spend only seed money contributions subsequent to becoming a candidate as defined by section 1, subsection 5 and throughout the qualifying period. A participating candidate who has accepted contributions or made expenditures that do not comply with the seed money restrictions under this chapter may petition the commission to remain eligible for certification as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate in accordance with rules of the commission, if the failure to comply was unintentional and does not constitute a significant infraction of these restrictions. Prior to certification, a candidate may obligate an amount greater than the seed money collected if the value of the goods and services received from a vendor does not exceed the amount paid to the vendor. A candidate may not collect or spend seed money contributions after certification as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate. A seed money contribution must be reported according to procedures developed by the commission.
Sec. B-4. 21-A MRSA §1124, sub-§2, ¶B, as amended by PL 2003, c. 673, Pt. EE, §1, is further amended to read:
B. Two million dollars of the revenues from the taxes imposed under Title 36, Parts 3 and 8 and credited to the General Fund, transferred to the fund by the State Controller on or before January 1st of each year, beginning January 1, 1999. These revenues must be offset in an equitable manner by an equivalent reduction within the administrative divisions of the legislative branch and executive branch agencies. This section may not affect the funds distributed to the Local Government Fund under Title 30-A, section 5681.
If the commission determines that the fund will not have sufficient revenues to cover the likely demand for funds from the Maine Clean Election Fund in an upcoming calendar year, by January 1st the commission shall provide a report of its projections of the balances in the Maine Clean Election Fund to the Legislature and the Governor and may request that the State Controller make the following transfers to the Maine Clean Election Fund from the General Fund:
(1) Up to $2,000,000 no later than February 28, 2006, reflecting an advance of the transfer of the amounts that would be received on or before January 1, 2007 pursuant to this paragraph;
(2) Up to $2,000,000 no later than July 31, 2006, reflecting an advance of the transfer of the amounts that would be received on or before January 1, 2008 pursuant to this paragraph; and
(3) Up to $1,500,000 no later than September 1, 2004, reflecting a partial advance of the transfer of the amounts that would be received on or before January 1, 2005 pursuant to this paragraph;
Sec. B-5. 21-A MRSA §1124, sub-§3, as amended by PL 2001, c. 559, Pt. OO, §1, is further amended to read:
3. Determination of fund amount.
By September 1st preceding each election year, If the commission s hall publish an estimate of revenue in the fund available for distribution to certified candidates during the upcoming year's elections and an estimate of the likely demand for clean elections funding during that election determines that the fund will not have sufficient revenues to cover the likely demand for funds from the Maine Clean Election Fund in an upcoming election, by January 1st the commission shall provide a report of its projections of the balances in the Maine Clean Election Fund to the Legislature and the Governor. The commission may submit legislation to request additional funding or an advance on revenues to be transferred pursuant to subsection 2, paragraph B.
Sec. B-6. 21-A MRSA §1125, as amended by PL 2005, c. 542, §§3 to 5, is further amended to read:
1. Declaration of intent.
A participating candidate must file a declaration of intent to seek certification as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate and to comply with the requirements of this chapter. The declaration of intent must be filed with the commission prior to or during the qualifying period, except as provided in subsection 11, according to forms and procedures developed by the commission. A participating candidate must submit a declaration of intent within 5 business days of collecting qualifying contributions under this chapter , or the qualifying . Qualifying contributions collected before the declaration of intent has been filed will not be counted toward the eligibility requirement in subsection 3.
2. Contribution limits for participating candidates.
Subsequent to becoming a candidate as defined by section 1, subsection 5 and prior to certification, a participating candidate may not accept contributions, except for seed money contributions. A participating candidate must limit the candidate's total seed money contributions to the following amounts:
A. Fifty thousand dollars for a gubernatorial candidate;
B. One thousand five hundred dollars for a candidate for the State Senate; or
C. Five hundred dollars for a candidate for the State House of Representatives.
The commission may, by rule, revise these amounts to ensure the effective implementation of this chapter.
2-A. Seed money restrictions.
To be eligible for certification, a participating candidate may collect and spend only seed money contributions subsequent to becoming a candidate and prior to certification. A participating candidate may not solicit, accept or collect seed money contributions after certification as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate.
A. All goods and services received prior to certification must be paid for with seed money contributions, except for goods and services that are excluded from the definition of contribution in section 1012, subsection 2, paragraph B. It is a violation of this chapter for a participating candidate to use fund revenues received after certification to pay for goods and services received prior to certification.
B. Prior to certification, a participating candidate may obligate an amount greater than the seed money collected, but may only receive that portion of goods and services that has been paid for or will be paid for with seed money. A participating candidate who has accepted contributions or made expenditures that do not comply with the seed money restrictions under this chapter may petition the commission to remain eligible for certification as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate in accordance with rules of the commission, if the failure to comply was unintentional and does not constitute a significant infraction of these restrictions.
C. Upon requesting certification, a participating candidate shall file a report of all seed money contributions and expenditures. If the candidate is certified, any unspent seed money will be deducted from the amount distributed to the candidate as provided in subsection 8.
3. Qualifying contributions.
Participating candidates must obtain qualifying contributions during the qualifying period as follows:
A. For a gubernatorial candidate, at least 2,500 3,250 verified registered voters of this State must support the candidacy by providing a qualifying contribution to that candidate;
B. For a candidate for the State Senate, at least 150 verified registered voters from the candidate's electoral division must support the candidacy by providing a qualifying contribution to that candidate; or
C. For a candidate for the State House of Representatives, at least 50 verified registered voters from the candidate's electoral division must support the candidacy by providing a qualifying contribution to that candidate.
A payment, gift or anything of value may not be given in exchange for a qualifying contribution. A candidate may pay the fee for a money order that is a qualifying contribution in the amount of $5 , which is a qualifying contribution, as long as the donor making the qualifying contribution pays the $5 amount reflected on the money order. Any money order fees paid by a participating candidate must be paid for with seed money and reported in accordance with commission rules. A money order must be signed by the contributor to be a valid qualifying contribution. The commission may establish by routine technical rule, adopted in accordance with Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A, a procedure for a qualifying contribution to be made by a credit or debit transaction and by electronic funds transfer over the Internet.
It is a violation of this chapter for a participating candidate or an agent of the participating candidate to misrepresent the purpose of soliciting qualifying contributions and obtaining the contributor's signed acknowledgement.
4. Filing with commission.
A participating candidate must submit qualifying contributions , receipt and acknowledgement forms, proof of verification of voter registration and a seed money report to the commission during the qualifying period according to procedures developed by the commission, except as provided under subsection 11. Candidates for Governor shall also submit photocopies of all seed money contributions received by check or money order, bank or merchant account statements of contributions received by credit or debit card and bank or other account statements for the campaign account.
5. Certification of Maine Clean Election Act candidates.
Upon receipt of a final submittal of qualifying contributions by a participating candidate, the commission or its executive director shall determine whether or not the candidate has:
A. Signed and filed a declaration of intent to participate in this Act;
B. Submitted the appropriate number of valid qualifying contributions;
C. Qualified as a candidate by petition or other means;
D. Not accepted contributions, except for seed money contributions, and otherwise complied with seed money restrictions;
D-1. Not run for the same office as a nonparticipating candidate in a primary election in the same election year; and
D-2. Not been found to have made a material false statement in a report or other document submitted to the commission;
D-3. Not had prior requests for certification denied on the basis of substantial violations of this chapter or chapter 13 or certification revoked under subsection 5-A, paragraphs C to G;
D-4. Not failed to pay any civil penalty assessed by the commission under this Title, except that a candidate has 3 business days from the date of the request for certification to pay the outstanding penalty and remain eligible for certification; and
E. Otherwise met the requirements for participation in this Act.
The commission or its executive director shall certify a candidate complying with the requirements of this section as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate as soon as possible and after final submittal of qualifying contributions and other supporting documents required under subsection 4 but no later than 3 business days after final submittal of qualifying contributions for legislative candidates and 5 business days for gubernatorial candidates. The commission and its executive director may take additional time if further investigation is necessary to verify compliance with this Act as long as the commission notifies the candidate regarding the anticipated schedule for conclusion of the investigation.
Upon certification, a candidate must transfer to the fund any unspent seed money contributions. A certified candidate must comply with all requirements of this Act after certification and throughout the primary and general election periods. Failure to do so is a violation of this chapter.
5-A. Revocation of certification.
The certification of a participating candidate may be revoked at any time if the commission determines that the candidate or an agent of the candidate:
A. Did not submit the required number of valid qualifying contributions;
B. Failed to qualify as a candidate by petition or other means;
C. Submitted any fraudulent qualifying contributions or qualifying contributions that were not made by the named contributor;
D. Misrepresented to a contributor the purpose of the qualifying contribution or obtaining the contributor's signature on the receipt and acknowledgement form;
E. Failed to fully comply with the seed money restrictions;
F. Knowingly accepted any contributions, including any in-kind contributions, or used funds other than fund revenues distributed under this chapter to make campaign-related expenditures without the permission of the commission;
G. Knowingly made a false statement or material misrepresentation in any report or other document required to be filed under this chapter or chapter 13; or
H. Otherwise substantially violated the provisions of this chapter or chapter 13.
The determination to revoke the certification of a candidate must be made by a vote of the members of the commission after an opportunity for a hearing. A candidate whose certification is revoked shall return all unspent funds to the commission within 3 days of the commission's decision and may be required to return all funds distributed to the candidate. In addition to the requirement to return funds, the candidate may be subject to a civil penalty under section 1127. The candidate may appeal the commission's decision to revoke certification in the same manner provided in subsection 14, paragraph C.
6. Restrictions on contributions and expenditures for certified candidates.
After certification, a candidate must limit the candidate's campaign expenditures and obligations, including outstanding obligations, to the revenues distributed to the candidate from the fund and may not accept any contributions unless specifically authorized by the commission. Candidates may also accept and spend interest earned on fund revenues in campaign bank accounts. All revenues distributed to a certified candidate from the fund must be used for campaign-related purposes. The candidate, the treasurer, the candidate's committee authorized pursuant to section 1013-A, subsection 1 or any agent of the candidate and committee may not use these revenues for any but campaign-related purposes. The commission shall publish guidelines outlining permissible campaign-related expenditures.
6-A. Assisting a person to become an opponent.
A candidate or a person who later becomes a candidate and who is seeking certification under subsection 5, or an agent of that candidate, may not assist another person in qualifying as a candidate for the same office if such a candidacy would result in the distribution of revenues under subsections 7 and 8 for certified candidates in a contested election.
7. Timing of fund distribution.
The commission shall distribute to certified candidates revenues from the fund in amounts determined under subsection 8 in the following manner.
A. Within 3 days after certification, for candidates certified prior to March 15th of the election year, revenues from the fund must be distributed as if the candidates are in an uncontested primary election.
B. Within 3 days after certification, for all candidates certified between March 15th and April 15th of the election year, revenues from the fund must be distributed according to whether the candidate is in a contested or uncontested primary election.
B-1. For candidates in contested primary elections receiving a distribution under paragraph A, additional revenues from the fund must be distributed within 3 days of March 15th of the election year.
C. Within No later than 3 days after the primary election results are certified, for general election certified candidates, revenues from the fund must be distributed according to whether the candidate is in a contested or uncontested general election.
Funds may be distributed to certified candidates under this section by any mechanism that is expeditious, ensures accountability and safeguards the integrity of the fund.
7-A. Deposit into account.
The candidate or committee authorized pursuant to section 1013-A, subsection 1 shall deposit all revenues from the fund and all seed money contributions in a campaign account with a bank or other financial institution. The campaign funds must be segregated from, and may not be commingled with, any other funds.
8. Amount of fund distribution.
By July 1, 1999 of the effective date of this Act, and at least every 4 years after that date, the commission shall determine the amount of funds to be distributed to participating candidates based on the type of election and office as follows.
A. For contested legislative primary elections, the amount of revenues to be distributed is the average amount of campaign expenditures made by each candidate during all contested primary election races for the immediately preceding 2 primary elections, as reported in the initial filing period subsequent to the primary election, for the respective offices of State Senate and State House of Representatives.
B. For uncontested legislative primary elections, the amount of revenues distributed is the average amount of campaign expenditures made by each candidate during all uncontested primary election races for the immediately preceding 2 primary elections, as reported in the initial filing period subsequent to the primary election, for the respective offices of State Senate and State House of Representatives.
C. For contested legislative general elections, the amount of revenues distributed is the average amount of campaign expenditures made by each candidate during all contested general election races for the immediately preceding 2 general elections, as reported in the initial filing period subsequent to the general election, for the respective offices of State Senate and State House of Representatives.
D. For uncontested legislative general elections, the amount of revenues to be distributed from the fund is 40% of the amount distributed to a participating candidate in a contested general election.
E. For gubernatorial primary elections, the amount of revenues distributed is $200,000 per candidate in the primary election.
F. For gubernatorial general elections, the amount of revenues distributed is $400,000 $600,000 per candidate in the general election.
If the immediately preceding election cycles do not contain sufficient electoral data, the commission shall use information from the most recent applicable elections.
9. Matching funds.
When any campaign, finance or election report required under this chapter or chapter 13 shows that the sum of a candidate's expenditures or obligations, or funds raised or borrowed contributions and loans, or fund revenues received, whichever is greater, alone or in conjunction with independent expenditures reported under section 1019-B, exceeds the distribution amount under subsection 8 sum of an opposing certified candidate's fund revenues, in conjunction with independent expenditures, the commission shall issue immediately to any the opposing Maine Clean Election Act certified candidate an additional amount equivalent to the reported excess difference. Matching funds for certified candidates for the Legislature are limited to 2 times the amount originally distributed under subsection 8, paragraph A , or C, E or F, whichever is applicable. Matching funds for certified gubernatorial candidates in a primary election are limited to 2 times the amount originally distributed under subsection 8, paragraph E. Matching funds for certified gubernatorial candidates in a general election are limited to the amount originally distributed under subsection 8, paragraph F.
10. Candidate not enrolled in a party.
An unenrolled candidate certified who submits the required number of qualifying contributions and other required documents under subsection 4 by 5:00 p.m. on April 15th preceding the primary election and who is certified is eligible for revenues from the fund in the same amounts and at the same time as an uncontested primary election candidate and a general election candidate as specified in subsections 7 and 8. For Otherwise, an unenrolled candidate not certified by April 15th at 5:00 p.m. the deadline for filing must submit the required number of qualifying contributions is and the other required documents under subsection 4 by 5:00 p.m. on June 2nd preceding the general election. An unenrolled candidate certified after April 15th at 5:00 p.m. If certified, the candidate is eligible for revenues from the fund in the same amounts as a general election candidate, as specified in subsections 7 and subsection 8. Revenues for the general election must be distributed to the candidate no later than 3 days after certification.
11. Other procedures.
The commission shall establish by rule procedures for qualification, certification, disbursement of fund revenues and return of unspent fund revenues for races involving special elections, recounts, vacancies, withdrawals or replacement candidates.
12. Reporting; unspent revenue.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, participating and certified candidates shall report any money collected, all campaign expenditures, obligations and related activities to the commission according to procedures developed by the commission. Upon the filing of a final report for any primary election in which the candidate was defeated and for all general elections that candidate shall return all unspent fund revenues to the commission. In developing these procedures, the commission shall utilize existing campaign reporting procedures whenever practicable. The commission shall ensure timely public access to campaign finance data and may utilize electronic means of reporting and storing information.
12-A. Required records.
The treasurer shall obtain and keep:
A. Bank or other account statements for the campaign account covering the duration of the campaign;
B. A vendor invoice stating the particular goods or services purchased for every expenditure of $50 or more; and
C. A record proving that a vendor received payment for every expenditure of $50 or more in the form of a cancelled check, cash receipt from the vendor or bank or credit card statement identifying the vendor as the payee.
The treasurer shall preserve the records for 2 years following the candidate's final campaign finance report for the election cycle. The candidate and treasurer shall submit photocopies of the records to the commission upon its request.
12-B. Audit requirements for candidates for Governor.
The commission shall audit the campaigns of candidates for Governor who receive funds under this chapter to verify compliance with election and campaign laws and rules. Within one month of declaring an intention to qualify for public financing, a candidate for Governor, the campaign's treasurer and any other relevant campaign staff shall meet with the staff of the commission to discuss audit standards, expenditure guidelines and record-keeping requirements.
13. Distributions not to exceed amount in fund.
The commission may not distribute revenues to certified candidates in excess of the total amount of money deposited in the fund as set forth in section 1124. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, if the commission determines that the revenues in the fund are insufficient to meet distributions under subsections 8 or 9, the commission may permit certified candidates to accept and spend contributions, reduced by any seed money contributions, aggregating no more than $500 per donor per election for gubernatorial candidates and $250 per donor per election for State Senate and State House candidates, up to the applicable amounts set forth in subsections 8 and 9 according to rules adopted by the commission.
A candidate who has been denied certification as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate, the opponent of a candidate who has been granted certification as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate or other interested persons may challenge a certification decision by the commission or its executive director as follows.
A. A challenger may appeal to the full commission within 7 days of the certification decision. The appeal must be in writing and must set forth the reasons for the appeal.
B. Within 5 days after an appeal is properly made and after notice is given to the challenger and any opponent, the commission shall hold a hearing , except that the commission may extend this period upon agreement of the challenger and the candidate whose certification is the subject of the appeal, or in response to the request of either party upon a showing of good cause. The appellant has the burden of providing evidence to demonstrate proving that the commission certification decision was improper in error as a matter of law or was based on factual error. The commission must rule on the appeal within 3 5 business days after the completion of the hearing.
C. A challenger may appeal the decision of the commission in paragraph B by commencing an action in Superior Court according to the procedure set forth in section 356, subsection 2, paragraphs D and E within 5 days of the date of the commission's decision. The action must be conducted in accordance with Rule 80C of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure, except that the court shall issue its written decision within 20 days of the date of the commission's decision. Any aggrieved party may appeal the decision of the Superior Court by filing a notice of appeal within 3 days of that decision. The record on appeal must be transmitted to the Law Court within 3 days after the notice of appeal is filed. After filing the notice of appeal, the parties have 4 days to file briefs and appendices with the clerk of the court. The court shall consider the case as soon as possible after the record and briefs have been filed and shall issue its decision within 14 days of the decision of the Superior Court.
D. A candidate whose certification by the commission as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate is revoked reversed on appeal must return to the commission any unspent revenues distributed from the fund. If the commission or court find finds that an appeal was made frivolously or to cause delay or hardship, the commission or court may require the moving party to pay costs of the commission, court and opposing parties, if any.