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Ethics commission fines Scarborough racino committee

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Ethics commission fines Scarborough racino committee

AUGUSTA — After more than three hours of testimony and deliberation Thursday, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices imposed a $12,250 penalty on the political action committee behind last fall's failed attempt to allow a racino in Scarborough.

The Scarborough Village Partnership was found liable for three campaign finance reports that were filed after deadlines had passed.

During testimony, witnesses also revealed that attorney and Scarborough resident Dan Warren was paid $30,000 by Penn National Gaming for an advertisement in which he endorsed a racino and for other services that PAC Treasurer Kathryn Rolston described as drumming up public support from the community for the racino project.

Though Warren appeared in the ad and was paid in October, the payment was not reflected in PAC financial reports until an amended filing in January.

Rolston's testimony also revealed that Scarborough Town Council Chairman Jeff Messer attended an unspecified number of Village Partnership PAC meetings.

The largest penalty, $10,000, was imposed on the PAC for failing to file an initial finance report when it first registered. One ethics commission member, Mavourneen Thompson, urged the other three members to increase the fine to the maximum allowed under law, $56,000.

"If we were to pass ($10,000), what is the message to the public?" Thompson asked. "Scarborough Village Partnership was a sophisticated PAC ... because of who they listed on their reports. I'm disappointed this is the extent of what we've decided to do."

Another $2,000 penalty was assessed for a late October filing. Though the assessment could have been as high as $5,000, commissioners chose a lower figure because Rolston received incorrect filing information from the Scarborough town clerk.

The final $250 penalty was the maximum amount allowed for late filing of the initial PAC registration.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.